Feeling lucky? Want a valid reason to call in sick from work? Hoping to lose a few pounds? Want to test the limits of your medical insurance? These are just a few of the worst, most misguided reasons to pass on getting a flu shot this year.
It might still be summer, but it’s already time to start thinking about getting the one small shot that can pack a big punch when it comes to the state of your health this fall and winter. But for many people, getting a flu shot is not exactly a chore they’re eager to cross off the list. For others, some common myths surrounding flu shots might dissuade them.
“Many people think you can get the flu from a flu shot, but you can’t; most of the vaccines are made from inactivated (dead) viruses,” explained Dr. Katharine Garnier, a family physician at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Many people also believe that the flu is just a minor illness. It isn’t," she added. "Each year, the flu causes between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Young children, the elderly and those with other health conditions are particularly vulnerable. So getting a flu shot not only protects you, it also keeps you from spreading the virus to someone who could suffer serious health issues, or die, from the flu.”
In a playful twist, Garnier offers the top 10 misguided reasons to pass on the flu shot:
- I’m feeling incredibly lucky this year.
- The vaccine is inexpensive, so it probably doesn’t work.
- I’m not afraid of body aches, headaches, sore throats or dangerously high fevers ... and I never get sick!
- I like the idea of having a real reason to call out sick from work.
- That cute little paper mask over my nose and mouth is a trendy fashion statement.
- Getting really, really sick is a great way to lose a few pounds without dieting.
- I’m not planning to leave my house, or let anyone in, for the next 6 months anyway.
- I’m anxious to find out if my insurance company really will cover a hospital stay.
- I went to the county fair and didn’t get swine flu, so I must have a natural immunity.
- Getting sick with the flu will give me a reason to visit relatives I don’t really like so that I can share the virus with them!
“Influenza is a contact virus,” Katharine Garnier said. “It can spread by person-to-person contact or it can land on a surface, such as a doorknob, handrail or elevator button, only to be picked up by the next unsuspecting person to come along.”
The best way to avoid the flu this year is to get the widely available flu vaccination from your family physician, pharmacy or one of the many flu vaccine clinics sponsored by local health departments. And yes, that means you – Garnier stresses that everyone over the age of 6 months old should be protected this year with a flu shot.