Influenza (Flu) Myth Busting!

in Health & Beauty

Influenza, commonly referred to as Flu, circulates every year most commonly during the winter periods. It is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly, with severity, causing many to seek healthcare services some of which may result in hospitalisation. Yet despite the flu vaccine having been thoroughly researched for safety, there are still persistent speculations made about its efficacy. Taking into account the extensive scientific research on the vaccine, here are some facts to dispel associated myths:

Myth:
Flu is not serious so I do not need the vaccine

Fact:
Healthy people can become very ill with the flu, but for those who are vulnerable it can cause complications such as sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, heart and/or brain inflammations. As many as 650 000 people a year die globally from the flu, and the number of hospitalisations are much greater. Getting vaccinated not only protects you but those around you too.

Myth:
The flu vaccine has not been tested, so it is not safe!

Fact:
All vaccines, including flu vaccines, have to be tested thoroughly before they can be licensed. Furthermore, flu vaccines have been in use since the 1960s with millions of doses administered every year. Like all medicines, some patients will experience side effects to the flu vaccination, but these are generally mild and resolve without treatment.

Myth:
The flu vaccine can give me the flu

Fact:
The injected flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus that cannot give you the flu. If you feel achy or slightly feverish, it is a normal reaction of your immune system responding to the vaccine (this is a good sign); this generally lasts only a day or two. 

Myth:
I had the vaccine and still got the flu, so it does not work

Fact:
Several flu viruses are circulating all the time, and best predictions are made when producing the yearly vaccine. It is possible to get the flu despite being vaccinated, if another strain is in circulation, but there are also a number of illness with similar symptoms to flu (including Covid-19 for example). Getting vaccinated is currently the best method we have to be protected from the flu. 

Myth:
The flu vaccine protects you straight away

Fact:
Typically, it takes about 10-14 days for you to be protected against flu after you get the vaccine; this means you could be vaccinated and then pick up flu before you are fully protected. That is why it is best to get the vaccine as early as possible before there are lots of flu viruses circulating.

Myth:
The flu vaccine is a combination of toxic ingredients which harms our health

Fact:
Vaccine ingredients, unlike food ingredients, include products used during the manufacturing process (excipients) which are not found in the final product; and if present only in trace amounts. You would, for example, be exposed to more mercury from a single tuna sandwich than from the flu vaccine. Many of the substances used in vaccines are found naturally in the body, some essential for normal functioning and only harmful in large amounts. All vaccine ingredients are present in very small quantities, and there is no evidence to suggest that they cause harm. 

Myth:
I am a healthy and therefore feel that I should not get the vaccine.

Fact:
Getting vaccinated not only protects you but our wider community. For health care workers this is particularly important, as it will help reduce the spread to vulnerable patients, as well as colleagues and family members.


For more information see: https://HealthyGibraltar.org/common-infections/influenza/ 

And look out for this year’s flu campaign material #ProtectedTogether 

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