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Flu Vaccine? Is it working for you? Any misconceptions?
The flu vaccine does NOT protect you from a cold. It protect you from influenza.
Even if you have gotten the flu vaccine in the past and “still gotten sick,” the flu vaccine was doing its job.

It just cannot protect you from all of the different cold viruses out there. Scientists are still working on the cure for the common cold.

Until then, it’s important to get protected from the virus that we do have something for, something that is much more serious than a cold – that is, influenza.

A published in Heartland Health Centers on December 19, 2012  under: 

The Facts about the Flu Vaccine

Every year I am surprised by all of the misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to do some myth-busting. The flu vaccine protects you from influenza, an ever-evolving virus that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

There are 2 kinds of flu vaccines:

1. the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine. The flu shot will NOT make you sick. It is made from inactivated or killed virus. This killed virus cannot infect you. Those killed particles do, on the other hand, make your body make antibodies to influenza. Consider antibodies to be like soldiers. These antibodies help you fight off the influenza virus in case you happen to catch it. At the first site of the influenza virus, these soldiers/antibodies immediately recognize the virus and help to protect your body.

2. The nasal spray flu vaccine is made of weakened virus, but even that does not cause the severe symptoms of influenza.

It CAN, in some people, lead to symptoms like muscle ache, headache, runny nose, wheezing and even fever. The nasal spray flu vaccine is for healthy 2 to 49 year olds, including women who are not pregnant.

Healthy means someone without a medical condition that predisposes them to the complications of influenza.

For example, the nasal spray flu vaccine is NOT suitable for someone with asthma. Your provider will figure out whether the shot or nasal spray is right for you.

So, who should get the flu vaccine?

Just about everyone who is 6 months old or older. The flu vaccine is NOT approved for those under 6 months of age.

Anyone who lives with or takes care of a baby who is under 6 months old, should especially get a flu vaccine to reduce your risk of catching the influenza virus and spreading it to an already vulnerable infant.

Certain people are especially high risk for getting complications to the flu and, therefore, are even more in need of the vaccine.

This includes people with asthma, diabetes, lung disease, pregnant women and people 65 years old or older.

Remember, while the nasal spray flu vaccine is not suitable for a number of these patient populations, the flu shot is.

Also, people who live with or take care of these high-risk patients should get vaccinated, to help protect those most at risk.

Each season a new influenza vaccine is developed to protect you from whichever virus researchers think will be the most common strain that season, from each of the 3 most common kinds of influenza (influenza B, influenza A [H1N1] and influenza A [H3N2]).

So even if you got a flu shot last year or the year before, you still need one this year.

The influenza virus is always changing.

Thus, we need to get the vaccine every year to protect us from the newest strain. The flu season can start as soon as October and extend all the way into May (Think of if sort of like a school year).

So, it is NOT too late to get your influenza vaccine for this season.

Protect yourself. Protect your friends and family. Protect your community.

Say no to the flu by saying yes to the flu vaccine.

Tania Hossain, MD, MPH
Pediatrician

Dr. Hossain received her medical degree and completed her pediatric residency at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She received her Master’s in Public Health, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University.

Dr. Hossain is dedicated to providing care to the underserved and helping to reduce disparities.

Her interests include newborns/infants, asthma, preventative medicine, obesity and eating disorders.

Dr. Hossain is fluent in Bengali and Spanish.


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