Doctors address flu myths during National Influenza Vaccination Week
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Doctors are urging adults and children to receive the influenza vaccine during the National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs through Saturday.
State health leaders said even if someone has not gotten the shot yet, it is not too late. Getting vaccinated soon can still provide immunity through the height of the flu season.
According to the CDC’s website, flu activity is currently considered low. In a recent online poll, 34 percent of parents said they would pass on the flu shot for their children. But local doctors want to remind everyone that just because a season my start off slowly, that does not mean anyone should skip the vaccine.
Kentucky has reported 118 lab-confirmed cases this season, many of which are children under the age of 10, according to state data. Last season was considered a flu epidemic, with hundreds of children and adults dying across the country.
Dr. April Mattingly, a pediatrician at Norton Children’s in Crestwood, said it is still too early to tell any trends in the effectiveness of the shot or what strains are more predominant. However, of the recent cases coming into her office, the children were not vaccinated.
“The case I saw this morning, she had not received the flu vaccine as of yet,” Mattingly said. “So, of course, I recommended she get one as soon as she feels better to protect her against the other strains of flu.”
The CDC always has to make an educated guess when it comes to which three or four strains should be in the next flu shot, so it’s never 100 percent effective. But Mattingly said it will never hurt to get one.
“We know even if you were to get the flu, and you received the flu vaccine, there will be less severity of your illness and the less chance you’ll be hospitalized or die from the flu,” she said.
The CDC recommends anyone older than six months old should get the shot, especially if they may be at higher risk for complications if they were to get the flu. Those include:
- Children age six months through 59 months
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Persons 50 years of age or older
- Persons with extreme obesity (Body Mass Index of 40 or greater)
- Persons aged six months and older with chronic health problems
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged ≤59 months and adults aged ≥50 years
- Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for complications from the flu
- Health care workers and students in health care professions
Mattingly said she tries to address parents’ concerns surrounding the shot, including the following myths:
- Myth: The flu shot will give me the flu.
- Fact: “The flu shot is not an active form of the flu,” Mattingly said. “It is not live. It cannot give you the flu. Any immunization we inject is going to hit your immune system. That’s how vaccines work. They make your body produce the anti-bodies.”
- Myth: The flu shot will lead to autism.
- Fact: “Vaccines do not cause autism in any way,” Mattingly said. “But if it makes parents feel more comfortable, we typically do use a preservative-free flu vaccine."
- Myth: I never get sick, so I don’t need the shot.
- Fact: “A lot of the children who were hospitalized last year were otherwise healthy children,” Mattingly said. “The flu doesn’t care whether your kid has an underlying medical condition. It can still cause severe illness to anyone.”
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