How to avoid getting the flu

flu shot

By JULIE RAMBIN, Staff Reporter ¦

It’s October, and for most of us, that means jack o’lanterns, costumes and trick-or-treating. For those who work in healthcare, however, it’s the beginning of a less festive event: flu season.

Far more frightening than any haunted house, influenza typically kills anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 Americans each year, depending on the severity of the year’s predominant strains. According to the Centers for Disease Control, during the 2017-2018 flu season, 180 children in the U.S. died from flu.

Myth: You can catch flu from the flu vaccine.

Fact: The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.

“Sometimes people may have been exposed to a virus before they got the vaccine, and then afterwards they get sick and think they got it from the flu shot,” Kerrie Young, AC nursing instructor, said.

“In the shot, you don’t actually get the flu virus. It’s an inactive particle or piece of the virus that just causes your own immune system to react and create antibodies to protect you from flu, from the disease.”

Myth: Only people in high-risk groups need a flu shot.

Fact: The CDC recommends routine annual vaccination for people older than 6 months.

“It’s important to get the flu shot,” Young said. “You help protect people who can’t get it.”

Pregnant women are recommended to get a flu shot, since their immunity will help protect their infant.

Children, as well as people with chronic heart, lung and other conditions are more susceptible to the flu and more likely to suffer from complications, including pneumonia and sepsis.

Myth: You don’t need to get a flu shot, since you might get flu anyway.

Fact: While it is possible to contract flu after immunization, it’s much less likely, and symptoms will likely be less severe than without the vaccine. According to the CDC, flu vaccination reduces deaths, ICU admissions and duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.

Getting a flu shot “doesn’t guarantee that you’re not going to get an illness,” Young said. “But it does decrease the severity of the illness.” Anyone can get flu. Symptoms vary by age, but can include: fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny or stuffy nose.

Flu can also lead to pneumonia and blood infections, and cause seizures in children. If you have a medical condition, flu can make it worse.

The Amarillo Health Department offers low- or no-cost vaccines for adults and children on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at their location on 1000 Martin Rd, Amarillo, TX 79107.

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