This flu season, the virus has become widespread across the country. There has already been a number of deaths nationwide. Many people have questions and concerns about the virus, and with that can come a lot of misinformation. Iris St. Meran spoke to Dr. Jarrod Bagatell from Upstate Medical University to help debunk flu myths.
Fact or Myth: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Dr. Bagatell: "It's impossible to get the flu from the flu vaccine. People think they may have gotten the flu from the flu vaccine because of some of the symptoms they may get after a flu shot,” He added, “It's rare, but some folks may get a feeling of feeling achy or maybe a mild fever after a flu shot. I'm told that's only about 1 percent of people who get a flu shot."
One thing to note is the flu vaccine takes about one to two weeks to become effective. And if you get the flu shortly after the shot, you were likely exposed to the virus before you were immunized. Bagatell said that is common. Flu symptoms can take a couple of days to show and if you have the virus, you can spread it five to seven days after your initial symptoms.
Fact or Myth: If you're healthy, you don't need the shot.
Dr. Bagatell: "That is certainly a myth. Everybody needs to get a flu shot. It's recommended by the CDC that everybody over the age of six months get a flu shot. Folks most at risk of getting the flu would be the really young, those un-immunized, those younger than six months, older folks and people with chronic medical conditions."
Fact or Myth: The flu shot doesn't work.
Dr. Bagatell: "Certainly, the flu shot is not 100 percent. In really good years, it can be 60, perhaps 70 percent effective and in hard years like this year it can be only as effective as 10 to 30 percent. The folks who develop the vaccine try to gauge what the strain is going to be in anticipation of flu season."
Fact or Myth: It's too late in the season to get a flu shot.
Dr. Bagatell: "It's never too late to get a flu shot. So if you haven't gotten one, get one. It takes one to two weeks to become effective, to build immunity. So, the best time to get the flu shot is well before flu season becomes an epidemic, which in our community and in our state began this year, December 13."
Aside from the shot other things you can do to protect yourself include frequent hand washing, wear a mask to protect yourself. If you feel like you're getting sick, cover your cough and stay home from work or school.
Dr. Bagatell also explained women who are pregnant can get the flu vaccine, as well as people who have an allergy to eggs.
For more information about seasonal flu, visit www.health.ny.gov