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Monday, March 11, 2013

Flu vaccine myths

The flu vaccine does not always impart immunity to the flu. According to a recent New York Times article the vaccine fails to protect about 44 percent of the people given the shot.

But, I knew this. It is one of the arguments put forth by the anti-flu-vaccine folk. On the surface it looks like one mark against the vaccine and one reason not to bother getting it. The NYT article points out the weakness of this argument.

When more people are immunized, fewer get sick and the chances of keeping everyone else healthy improve, a phenomenon called "herd immunity."

If you'd like to read the entire NYT article, here is a link to: Myths about the flu vaccine.

I have a failing heart. I have an ICD implanted in my chest with an additional pacemaker function. I would never fail to get my annual flu shot. Never!

A majority of North Americans fail to get a flu shot. They have a variety of reasons for failing to act but all their excuses have one thing in common: They are myths.

Here are six of the more common myths about the flu debunked.
  1. You can catch the flu from the vaccine: No. This doesn't happen.

  2. Healthy people don't need to be vaccinated: No. Everyone benefits. Think herd immunity.

  3. The flu is just a bad cold: No. Tens of thousands of people die and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized every year suffering from the flu.

  4. You can't spread the flu if you're feeling well: Yes, you can. Up to 30 percent of infected people exhibit no symptoms.

  5. You don't need to get a flu shot every year: Yes, you do. The virus responsible for the flu changes from year to year.

  6. If you have a high fever with the flu that lasts more than a day or two, antibiotics may be necessary: The operative word here is "may". Antibiotics don't work against viral infections but an opportunistic bacterial infection occurring as a complication of the flu, may well mean antibiotics are in order.
Separating fact from fiction is getting harder and harder, thanks in part to the Internet. If you disagree with any or all of the above, here are some links supporting my post. Please get a flu shot; If not for yourself, for the benefit of your friends and family.

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