The flu vaccine – yes or no?

Don’t waste your sick days on the flu – get the flu jab!

We know, we know – just the thought of getting an injection may be giving you the shivers. But if you want to avoid getting actual shivers because of fever and flu, the injection is your best solution!

There are always a lot of questions that come up when talking about vaccines. To make things easier for you, we’ve summarized some of the most common ones and busted a few myths along the way too.

Does the flu vaccine really work?

Yes! Of course no vaccine is ever 100% effective, but studies have shown that vaccines offer between 70 to 90% protection against the flu. This reduces the risk of being admitted to hospital by 90% and having to miss work by 43%. Think about all the time and money that would save you (not to mention all the pain, headaches and sneezing!).

How often should you have a flu vaccine?

You need to have a flu vaccine every year. That’s because the flu virus itself if very sneaky and continually changes. Scientists keep an eye on the virus and how it changes, to come come up with a new flu vaccine “recipe” each year.

Who should be vaccinated?

Everyone would benefit from the vaccine, but there are certain groups of people who need it more than others: These include pregnant moms-be-be, the elderly, people living with HIV or suffering from chronic disease, such as asthma and diabetes. If this is you, chat to your doctor about what the best plan of action would be for you.

When should you have the vaccine?

Flu season usually kicks in around the first week of June, but it can start as early as April or as late as July. It takes around 2 weeks after you have the vaccine for it to become effective, so the earlier you can have it the better. If you miss the pre-flu season window, never fear! There is no “cut off” date to have the vaccine.

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Having a vaccine will give me the flu!

Wrong…. When you get a flu vaccine, you’re not being injected with a whole virus — you’re receiving an inactivated, or dead, virus. That means the part of the virus that can infect you and make you sick is turned off, but the part of the virus that stimulates your body to create antibodies is still on. It’s possible that you could become infected with the flu virus before the vaccine has taken effect, but the only real side effect of the vaccine itself is a little tenderness around the injection site! Nothing a little T.L.C. can’t fix!

Vaccine – yes or no?

The evidence in support of the flu vaccine gives it a big thumbs-up! Vaccine or not, there are a few other ways to keep yourself flu-free this season:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water and clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces regularly. Teach your kids to wash their hands too!
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth whenever possible.
  • Contain sneezes and coughs with disposable tissues (and make sure to dispose of them right away!) and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try not to touch objects around you when in public places, such as the rail of the escalator or your coughing colleague’s pen or computer mouse
  • Avoid close or prolonged contact with people with a cold or flu
  • Stop smoking – Those who smoke are more vulnerable to complications from the flu

By Dr Leanne White for HelloDoctor.com