Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Debunking flu myths: Why you should get your vaccination now

I hope that you'll allow me to step back onto my vaccination soapbox for a moment.

I just read a news story that chilled this mother's heart. Four-and-a-half-year-old Amanda Kanowitz was healthy until she began to show her first symptoms—cough, low fever, and vomiting. Her doctor suspected a common childhood bug and recommended fluids and rest. Three days later, her parents found her lifeless in her bed.

Amanda had the flu. Seven years ago, when she died, doctors did not recommend shots for kids her age. That has changed. Now the CDC recommends flu shots for everyone over 6 months old.

I hate to be the one to pass along such a sad story, but I am doing so in the hope that it will help save lives. Only 43% of Americans got a flu shot last year, and that was a record year. The article that I read, on how to "Separate the facts from flu fiction," ran through several common flu myths. I'll highlight two, but I urge you to read the article for more information.

Myth 2: The flu shot causes the flu.
About 35% of consumers think the flu vaccine can cause flu, CVS found. But that's impossible, CDC says, because the viruses in the flu shot are dead. Its most common side effect is a sore arm. Mist nasal spray contains weakened viruses, so they don't cause severe symptoms, either. Side effects in kids can include a runny nose, wheezing and headache.

Myth 4: Only sickly people need a flu shot.
Half of consumers think flu shots are only for kids or sick people, CVS found. Actually, the most vulnerable members of society, such as newborns or those with weak immune systems, often can't get flu shots. The only way to protect them is to vaccinate everyone around them, keeping flu viruses out of circulation, Bergen says. Because babies can't be vaccinated until they're 6 months old, they depend on vaccinated friends and family members to create a "cocoon" of protection, Bergen says.
I'm sure that you have already read my past blogs on the flu and vaccines (right?), but on the off chance that you haven't, here's a link to my posts on vaccination. If you still need to get your flu shot, please go to your nearest pharmacy (many of them are located in your local grocery store) and take a few minutes to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you have already received your flu shot, here's a big THANK YOU from me and my family.

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