Chills, fever, fatigue and body aches. Those who have suffered with the flu know all too well the misery of catching this nasty virus. Luckily, there is an alternative to spending a week or more in bed, thanks to the widely-available and effective flu shot. However, less than half of Americans go for this option, largely due to the myths surrounding the flu shot. So if you are one of the skeptics, read on to get the facts.
Myth #1: The flu is just a bad cold, so I don't need a shot.
Fact: A cold is annoying, but the flu is actually dangerous. In fact, it kills up to 49,000 people each year, and puts another 200,000 in the hospital. And while it's true that most people recover just fine (those at risk are the young, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems), it's never a bad idea to put yourself out of harm's way.
Myth #2: The flu shot gets you sick.
Fact: Perhaps the most common and frustrating myth, there is simply no truth behind this. The flu shot only contains dead virus, which means it is absolutely impossible to infect you. But since flu shots are most often administered during cough and cold season, people who become sick with an unrelated cold after often blame it on the shot. Also, the flu shot can take up to two weeks to become effective, which means it is possible to get the flu during this window.
Myth #3: You don't need a flu shot every year.
Fact: Since many vaccines last for years, or even a lifetime, many people believe they don't need to get a flu shot every single year. However, the strains of flu change every year, so each flu season you need to protect yourself with the most up-to-date vaccine.
Myth #4: If you haven't had the flu shot by now, it's too late.
Fact: While many believe that November and December are the flu season months, it's actually not at its peak until February or even late March. It's never too late to get your seasonal flu shot, as it will protect yourself and those around you.
Myth #5: Only sickly people need the flu shot.
Fact: Even if you never get sick, it doesn't mean you are immune, and the flu shot is still recommended as a precaution. Moreover, the very young and sick often cannot get a flu shot. So if you spend time with those in the at risk category, you could actually act as a carrier, even if you aren't sick yourself. Getting the flu shot would lower not only your risk of getting sick, but also that of those around you.
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