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As winter approaches, doctors throughout the U.S. will ask their patients if they’ve gotten the flu shot. Many people will opt for the flu (short for influenza) shot to keep the virus, which induces symptoms akin to an exaggerated cold with intense fatigue, from spreading in their bodies. Others, though, may hesitate due to certain misconceptions about the flu shot. These flu shot facts, though, should persuade naysayers to get vaccinated – here are five facts to know this winter.
1. A flu shot won’t give you the flu
Some people believe that getting vaccinated for the flu is a surefire way to contract the illness. After all, vaccines are often made from weakened or dead viruses, so worrying that injecting these viruses directly into the body could reactivate them might seem rational to some. However, the flu shot will absolutely not give you the flu.
In fact, you’ll be far less likely to fall ill if you get your flu shot. However, this particular flu shot myth has persisted because the flu shot takes two weeks to become effective. Two weeks is plenty of time to be exposed to the virus, so get your flu shot early to maximize your resistance.
2. Vaccinations are recommended in the early fall
Flu season begins in roughly mid-November, so experts recommend that you get your flu shot by the end of October. This way, the vaccine will be in your system for a full two weeks by the time flu season starts. If you can’t get your flu shot by the end of October, experts still encourage you to get vaccinated at any point from November through the end of winter. However, there are bad times to get the flu shot, such as in the summer since the shot’s effects may dwindle toward the end of flu season.
3. Almost everyone should get the flu shot
Rare is the person for whom the flu shot isn’t recommended. Only babies under six months old and people with specific allergies are advised to avoid the flu shot. Some flu shots may contain gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients to which some people are allergic. People allergic to eggs may also be advised against getting the flu shot, as might people who suffer from the severe paralyzing illness Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
4. Flu shots don’t last a lifetime
Some vaccines that you get during your childhood last pretty much your whole lifetime. Flu shots, on the other hand, last only a year, so it’s important to get a new flu shot every year. The influenza virus mutates often enough that one year’s flu shot may not treat the next year’s flu, just as treatments for your common cold don’t prevent you from getting sick again two months later.
5. The flu has a death toll
Although the common cold doesn’t have much of a death toll, the flu does. During the average U.S. flu season, as many as tens of thousands of people die from the flu. The flu shot can thus literally be lifesaving – and after you take in all these facts, you might have very few reasons to avoid getting it.
Will you get your flu shot this season? Share why in the comments!