Take Flu Season Seriously & Prepare

Story by Jeanie Edgmon

This year, National Influenza Vaccination week will be observed from December 5-9, 2022. It is a gentle reminder to take Influenza seriously. Commonly called the flu, Influenza is a contagious viral infection that can cause mild to severe symptoms and life-threatening complications even in healthy individuals. The good news is it can be avoided with a simple immunization.

Understandably, Influenza has taken a back seat in our minds compared to other pressing worldwide health concerns. It is, however, time to move back to a place of prominence. When compared to the last couple of flu seasons, life is largely back to normal — workers are at their desks, students are in the classroom, people are traveling, and the observance of health safety protocols is down. These things prepare us for a more serious flu season than in the previous two years.

Though it is common, Influenza is a serious virus, and we should give our full attention to avoiding contracting and spreading it to others. While the severity of the symptoms of flu varies, it affects a substantial number of people in the United States each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates that flu has resulted in 9 million – 41 million illnesses, 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 – 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020.

The recent pandemic showed that together we can stem the tide of contagious diseases by getting vaccinated. We can do the same to prevent the spread of Influenza.

Flu Vaccine Misconceptions

Misconceptions about the flu vaccine cause many to avoid it and can contribute to the reason they become sick and spread the virus to others. Here are the top myths you can help debunk.

“You Can Get the Flu from the Vaccine”

The flu shot delivered via a needle contains an “inactive” virus that simply cannot cause an infection. While the vaccine delivered by nasal spray contains live viruses, experts have weakened them so they cannot cause the flu.

“The Flu is not Serious”

Many people use the word “flu” to represent a wide range of illnesses that are not Influenza including colds and other respiratory illnesses. Influenza, however, is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Vulnerable populations such as the elderly, infants, and health-compromised individuals are also, particularly at risk.

“You Only Need the Flu Shot if You’re Old”

Everyone is at risk of getting seriously ill. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu.

“Pregnant Women Should Not Get the Flu Vaccine”

Contrary to popular belief, all expectant moms should get vaccinated. They actually have a higher risk for serious complications from influenza than other women of reproductive age.

Equally important, getting the flu shot while pregnant even protects the baby from the flu for months after delivery. This is especially important as infants younger than 6 months can’t get flu shots of their own and are more likely to suffer serious complications if they get sick.

“Flu Shots Don’t Work”

The flu virus changes rapidly, and most flu vaccines are grown from the previous year’s strains. Because of this, the strains used in vaccination may not be what is encountered that year. Because of this, flu vaccines are not as effective as other vaccines for other illnesses. However, the flu vaccines are still proven to significantly reduce one’s chances of becoming ill and most importantly, are still the most effective way to prevent getting Influenza.

Healthy Kansas City would like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and encourage their friends and family to do the same.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website at cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/nivw/index.htm to access valuable resources.