It can be a cringe-inducing moment for a doctor when their patient opts out of the flu vaccine — especially right before the virus is expected to spike. The reason doctors advocate for the flu vaccine is simple: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine has powerful proven benefits, like preventing tens of thousands of flu-related hospitalizations, protecting pregnant women during and after pregnancy, and lowering flu-related ICU visits by 82 percent.
Still, not everyone is fully informed about the vaccine and why it’s so crucial come flu season.
What Does the Flu Vaccine Do?
Once a flu vaccine is injected, antibodies develop throughout the body to protect against the influenza disease. Since every flu season is different, research is conducted annually to ensure that doctors administer flu vaccines for the different anticipated influenza viruses that are predicted to go around every year.
Flu vaccines are created to protect against an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and influenza B — and the CDC strongly recommends that individuals as young as 6 months of age get vaccinated each year.
Managing and Preventing Flu Symptoms
“Get yourself and your family vaccinated with the flu vaccine,” says Dr. Jason Kessler, chief of Infectious Diseases at Atlantic Health System's Morristown Medical Center. “This doesn't always prevent the flu, but it can shorten the duration or severity.”
Since the flu vaccination doesn’t always stop the flu, Kessler suggests being proactive if you come down with the virus during peak flu season. “Don't go to work when you have flu symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, vomiting, or GI symptoms,” he advises. Kessler also advocates for the power of frequent hand washing. “Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap for 30 seconds under warm water multiple times each day.”
In the event you come down with the flu, most mild symptoms of cold and flu can be managed with over-the-counter medicines. Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold is a great option because it provides fast, powerful relief in the form of a warm, soothing liquid (when used a directed).
Myths About the Flu Vaccine, Debunked
Despite the outstanding benefits of getting vaccinated each flu season, there are still a few misconceptions about the flu vaccine. One of the main misunderstandings of the flu vaccine is that it actually gives people the flu. According to the CDC, flu vaccines either contain a noninfectious flu virus or just one gene from a flu virus in order to produce an immune response, making it impossible to come down with the flu this way.
Another common flu myth is that it’s unsafe for children, which Dr. Kessler debunks: “The flu vaccine is also safe for children. Work with your child's doctor to determine an appropriate schedule.”
Some also believe it’s better to get the flu than receive the flu vaccine. The CDC advises against this, as getting vaccinated for the flu is much safer than risking the flu disease itself.