SMITH COUNTY — October is nearing its end, and which means so is the deadline recommended by the CDC for getting a flu shot. Last year's flu season was one of the worst in more than a decade, with 19-consecutive weeks of record-breaking flu hospitalizations nationwide. This season, health care professionals are urging people to get their flu shots, yet myths surrounding the shot and concern that some groups might not take heed to the warning remain.
"For this flu season, we've given out about 1100 vaccines, so far," says Sylvia Warren, Net Health Director of Immunizations.
This year, as many as 35-million flu cases are expected. To avoid another hard-hitting flu season, health experts say it's critically important that anyone six months and older head to the doctor to get the vaccine.
Even though some form of the flu vaccination has been around for more than 70 years, there are still several myths and misconceptions that remain. For starters, many believe the vaccination to be ineffective, to the point of even giving the receiver the illness.
"It's a dead virus and it cannot give you the flu. Everybody's body is different. Your immune system is different. Some people it doesn't affect them at all."
According to the CDC, if you get the flu after receiving the vaccine, you were likely already sick before getting the shot. It takes two-to-three weeks for the vaccination to take effect.
Another myth commonly shared: "If I got the vaccine last year, I do not need to get it this flu season."
"People tend to not want to get the flu vaccine, because like with last year, they said it wasn't as effective. So, people say, 'well why should I get it if it's not going to be effective?' But they still need to get it, every year because the flu virus itself changes every year."
Some people even believe the flu shot is only necessary for the old and very young, and that it only works for people of certain race groups. Myths like this one have led to the following statistics. In a 2017 CDC study, African Americans and Hispanics nationwide were found to be less likely to get a flu shot compared to white Americans.
There are several ways to get the flu vaccine, including a few versions of the shot, a nasal spray and even, a special version for people who are highly allergic to eggs. For those who find themselves with the illness, it's important to receive an antiviral treatment within 48 hours of becoming ill. This week, the FDA approved its first new flu antiviral treatment to have a novel mechanism of action in nearly 20 years.