Physician dispels misconceptions about annual flu vaccine

Dr. Jennifer Caudle is an assistant professor of Family Medicine at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Over the years in her busy medical practice, she's heard just about every possible excuse or misconception about the annual flu vaccine. In a new op-ed on CNN.com, she tackles these most common myths and misconceptions head on, and explains why every eligible person should be vaccinated against the seasonal flu.

"Every year, it's the same battle," Caudle writes on the website. "Every year, I urge my patients to get the influenza vaccine. And every year, they come up with a bucketful of excuses."

Among the excuses she hears most often: patients are afraid, they think the vaccine will hurt, make them sick or that it simply doesn't work. Caudle says she understands their concerns, but says the vaccine is safe, effective and essential "to nipping the seasonal bug in the bud."

Perhaps the most common myth associated with the vaccine is that the shot can actually cause the flu. In her article, Caudle recounts that, when she was a medical student, she became ill a few days after receiving her shot. She notes, however, that it is simply not possible to get influenza from the flu, explaining that, in her case, she may have contracted the virus before the vaccination took full effect or she likely had another type of virus that caused flu-like symptoms.

In countering flu myths, Caudle also points out that "Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also helps protect others - infants, the elderly and people with certain chronic medical conditions - who may not be able to fight off illness as well as you."

Because the flu season won't peak until January or February and can last until May, Caudle says that it's not too late to vaccinate. She notes that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccinations prevented 79,000 hospitalizations and 6.6 million flu-associated illnesses last year, which was widely considered to be a mild flu season.

Source: Rowan University 

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