It may seem hard to believe but in most Midwestern states, winter is just around the corner. The return to blustery days also means the return of flu season. While we know the flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent getting bitten by the flu bug, not all seniors are on board with receiving it.
For many older adults, the reason they won’t get vaccinated is tied to one of the many myths that surround flu shots. With that in mind, we decided it was time to separate fact from fiction and help seniors stay safe this winter.
Influenza Vaccine Myths
Myth #1: The flu shot will cause me come down with the flu.
FACT: This is probably the most prevalent myth about the flu shot. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the virus in the flu shot is inactivated. That means a person who receives the vaccine cannot get sick from taking it.
Myth #2: If I get my flu shot too early, it won’t protect me for the whole flu season. I could catch the flu before the end of winter. I’m better off waiting until January.
FACT: The flu shot is effective for a whole year. Most health experts say October or early November are the best months to be vaccinated. Doing so will protect you if the flu makes the rounds early as it so often does.
Myth #3: You don’t need the vaccine every year. Every few years is fine.
FACT: Unlike one-time vaccination such as for shingles, the flu shot is an annual vaccine. The formula changes each year to target strains of the flu that are predicted to be part of the current year’s virus.
Myth #4: If you feel sick or have any flu symptoms, you can’t spread the virus.
FACT: This is another myth that can be dangerous for seniors. If their caregivers or family members aren’t vaccinated, they may unknowingly pass the virus on to a more vulnerable senior loved one. Experts warn that 20% to 30% of people who have the influenza virus don’t show any outward signs of it.
Myth #5: For my Medicare to cover my flu shot, I need to have it done at my doctor’s office.
FACT: Medicare will cover one flu shot per year. Providers who accept Medicare can typically provide the vaccine to you at no cost.
To learn more about the predictions for the 2015-2016 flu season, visit the Influenza Resource Center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.