Erie County health officials: Flu shot will not give you influenza


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Department of Health is giving a friendly reminder to those who are skeptical of getting a flu shot.

It’s a common myth that a flu shot can result in the recipient contracting the flu.

That’s simply not true, and health officials want people to know that while dispelling other false beliefs.

As flu season rears its ugly head, rumors and myths begin to fly through the air like the virus itself.

“Just like putting a snow brush in your car or pulling out warmer coats for cooler weather, making sure you get the flu vaccine is an important part of preparing for winter and flu season,” Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Right now, before the end of October, is prime time to make an appointment with your primary care provider, go to a retail pharmacy, or look to a community clinic to receive the flu vaccine.”

Let’s break down what the flu is. Simply put, it’s a virus that causes a contagious respiratory illness that is spread both through the air and by direct contact.

Symptoms include fever, aching muscles, sore throat, coughing, headache, eye pain and a runny nose.

“Colder weather means that people are indoors more often, making flu transmission in close quarters more likely. Washing your hands frequently and properly is an effective tactic to fight the transmission of flu and other illnesses.”

The way that a person reacts to the flu shot or nasal spray might make them think they have the flu.

Sometimes, those who receive a shot may develop a slight rash, or experience soreness, tenderness or swelling of the skin. Muscle aches, a headache and a low-grade fever are other potential reactions to it.

The nasal spray form of immunization may result in short-lived reactions similar to those of the actual flu.

But none of these reactions mean you have the flu.

When you do have the virus though, it doesn’t always just go away. In some cases, it can lead to hospitalization or even death.

“Every year, we see deaths because of flu and flu complications, and this vaccine will reduce your risk for getting the flu and also protect those around you who might not be able to get the vaccine because of their young age or a medical condition,” Dr. Burstein explained. “Young children, women who are pregnant, people over the age of 65 and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease have a higher risk of developing severe flu complications.”

Even though some people have a higher risk of getting the flu, everyone who’s at least six months old should still get vaccinated anyway.

But some people may not care to get immunized, thinking the flu season only exists while it’s cold out.

When the snow melts, the risk is still out there. Flu season typically lasts through May.

“The flu does not have to be part of your winter,” said Dr. Burstein. “Make the flu vaccine a priority, and remind others in your family to do the same.”

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