Q: Isn't the flu vaccine harmful?
A: No. The flu vaccine has not been shown to be harmful. Concerns over methyl mercury levels have been shown to be in extremely low levels. Getting the flu vaccine is much safer than getting the flu.
Q: Why is it important for me to get the vaccine?
A: The flu is very serious infection of the lungs and respiratory tract. It causes severe illness, hospitalization and sometimes death, especially in the frail and elderly who we have the honor of caring for and protecting. Studies have shown that getting vaccinated can significantly reduce the incidence of flu complications from the flu for the elderly.
Q: Will I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
A: No. The inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) contains no live virus, only virus proteins. You cannot get the flu or spread the flu from the vaccine. After the injection, some people have experienced pain in the arm or develop a reaction to the vaccine but they are not contagious. The flu vaccine nasal spray does contain live viruses but they cannot cause the flu. It will not cause infection or illness. In some cases, people may mistake a common cold virus with the flu or may have already been exposed to the flu virus before the vaccine could take effect.
Q: What if I have a bad reaction to the vaccine?
A: Serious reactions to the flu vaccine are very rare, but treatments are effective and available. It is more likely that your body may react to the injection with swelling or redness around the injection site or with mild fever. These are less severe reactions and diminish quicker than the actual flu and are not contagious.
Q: Is the flu vaccine safe for pregnant women and babies?
A: Yes. The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women and for babies older than six months. Pregnant women should receive the inactivated influenza vaccine and not the nasal spray. The flu can be particularly severe for pregnant women. The vaccine may reduce preterm births and has shown to protect infants from influenza.
Q: Can't I just take antibiotics to fight the flu?
A: Antibiotics only kill bacteria. The flu is a virus so antibiotics will not help. However, there are antiviral medications such as Tamiflu that can help especially when given within 48 hours of onset of symptoms. Once you have the flu, drugs may help with some of the symptoms, but they will not cure the flu.
Q: I received the flu vaccine last year so do I need on this year?
A: Yes. Yearly vaccines are highly recommended since the strains of the flu change. Health officials identify the viruses that are the most likely to cause illness and develop a vaccine appropriate for these viruses. In addition, immunity wears off throughout the year so the vaccine is highly recommended annually.
Q: What should I do to prepare for the flu?
A: Get the flu vaccine. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Once you get the flu vaccine, it may take up to two weeks for the antibody response to take effect.
Q: I had the flu vaccine. Will that prevent me from getting the flu?
A: The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary depending on the match between the viruses in the vaccine and the actual flu viruses circulating in our community. If these match, the effectiveness is very high. There is no guarantee that you will not get the flu, but having the vaccine will reduce your risk of contracting the virus and also reduces the impact of the infection if you do catch the flu.
The flu season is unpredictable, so the sooner you receive your flu shot the more you will protect yourself, your family, co-workers and parents. If you have any additional questions please contact an HCR ManorCare facility near you. Our goal is to provide as much information as possible about the flu and reducing the spread of the virus.