curing-flu-6986580[1]According to an estimated 111 million work days are missed due to the flu each flu season.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to use my paid time off when I am feeling well.  The flu shot is safe for most people, it is covered by most health insurance plans and is usually easy to find, so why not protect yourself and your loved ones?

We encourage our OB patients to receive a flu vaccination.  We will be offering the vaccinations in our offices soon. 

There are many myths regarding flu immunization as well as questions about who should be immunized.  Below are some common questions and myths.

Is the flu vaccine safe for a pregnant woman?

According to the CDC, yes, the flu vaccine is a safe way to protect pregnant women and 521851977[1]their developing fetus from complications of the flu, such as pneumonia.  Some pregnant women are fearful of the effects of trace amounts of mercury used in a preservative in multi dose vials.  Single dose vials do not need this preservative as no vaccine is left for use at a later time.  We use single dose vials in our offices.  Receiving the flu immunization during pregnancy also protects a newborn against the flu for the first six months after birth.  You protect two immune systems for the price of one!

I got the flu from the flu vaccine.

Myth, the vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit infection.  It takes about two weeks after immunization for the body to build up antibodies to fight the flu virus.  If a person develops the flu around the time of vaccination, the person would get sick regardless of whether she was vaccinated or not.  Chances are the symptoms will be less severe since the individual’s body will start building antibodies when the shot is rceived.

Can I contract the flu even though I have been immunized?

Yes you can. As mentioned above if you are coming down with the flu before or around the time you are immunized, you can still contract the virus.  Researchers predict which strains of the flu virus will be most prevalent each flu season and develop vaccines to cover 3 or 4 of those strains.  It would be impossible to immunize against every strain of the virus, so if an immunized individual comes in contact with a different flu virus than those covered in the vaccine, the individual may contract that uncovered virus.

images[1]I never get sick. I do not need the flu shot.

You could contract the flu, but not show symptoms and be a carrier and infect others if you are not immunized.  If you are in contact with individuals with weakened immune systems, the elderly, people with asthma, etc. you should get vaccinated to protect them.  But even an otherwise healthy individual can end up in the emergency room or worse after contracting the flu.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

Who should not receive the flu vaccine?

Children younger than 6 months should not receive the vaccine, which is why it is important for the mother-to-be to be vaccinated during pregnancy as the infant will be covered the first 6 months after birth.  If you have life-threatening allergies to any of the ingredients in the vaccine which might include, eggs, gelatin, antibiotics, etc. you should discuss the risks of vaccination with your health care provider.  If you have ever had Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome consult with your physician before getting vaccinated.  If you are otherwise not feeling well, discuss your symptoms with your health care practitioner before obtaining the vaccine.

Here’s to a flu free flu season!