Busting flu shot myths and flu trend forecast for National Influenza Vaccination Week

This week is National Flu Vaccination Week, highlighting the importance of a flu vaccine. As Americans head into the busiest travel period of the season, it’s best to get protected now!

So, if you have any hesitancies on rolling up your sleeve, you can set the record straight with flu shot fact or fiction!

Fact. Healthy people need the flu shot too.

If you’re not immunocompromised, do you really *need* it? Those with chronic illness have higher risk for severe symptoms but anyone can benefit from the vaccine. Plus, it helps lessen the spread of the flu.

Fiction. You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.

20 to 30 percent of people carrying the flu have no symptoms.

Fact. You need to get a flu shot every year.

Each year the virus mutates and getting the flu vaccine can protect you from the most dominant strain that season.

Fiction. You can get the flu from cold weather, not wearing a coat or leaving the house with wet hair.

The only way to catch the flu is by being exposed to the influenza virus. Flu season just coincidentally occurs when cold weather hits.

Fact. You can catch the flu from the vaccine.

The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit infection. If you’re feeling flu-like symptoms, it could be adverse side effects that should subside in a few days. The shot takes two weeks to become effective so it’s possible that the virus was already in your system. Even if you were to catch the flu, the flu shot makes it so that your flu symptoms are less severe.

Local flu cases are four times the amount we saw this time last year, while the vaccination rates are lower than before!

According to Dr. Mark Fox at the St. Joseph County Health Department, positivity rates and hospitalizations are up this year. Preliminary data from the CDC suggests that this flu season has already accounted for 4,500 to 13,000 deaths and between 78,000 to 170,000 hospitalizations.

This surge is happening as other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and RSV continue to spread. The number of COVID cases in St. Joseph County have doubled since before Thanksgiving. And as the holiday season continues so does your flu risk, so it’s best to get that vaccine now so it has time to take effect.

“If you have the flu shot, it will lessen the severity of the symptoms you experience. And I always say it kind of shifts it via category. People who would have been hospitalized with it, could be managed as an outpatient. People who would go to the doctor because their symptoms are so severe, likely will not be sick enough to require a doctor’s visit," said Fox.

The flu shot typically takes around two weeks to kick in--so if you’re travelling this holiday season--now is the time to protect yourself and your loved ones from severe illness.

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