It's the drumbeat you hear every year - time to roll up your sleeve for your annual flu vaccination. But, is it really worth the effort? Does the flu vaccine really work?
"In a word: Yes!" says Dr. Claudine De Dan, a Rowan Family Medicine physician and a faculty member at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. "The most predictable thing about flu season is its unpredictability. The vaccine protects not only you, but also those whose aren't able to get the vaccine because of their age or pre-existing medical condition."
She shares her thoughts on the myths and misconceptions she hears most often from patients at her Washington Township office:
The vaccine can give you the flu.
"The injectable vaccine is made from dead viruses, so it can't cause the flu. After vaccination, your body does need up to two weeks to develop full immunity, so if you were already exposed to the virus, you could end up with flu soon after getting vaccinated."
Saying flu is "dangerous" is just hype.
"The truth is that even the mildest flu seasons can cause as many as 3,000 flu-related deaths. That could rise to more than 45,000 deaths and nearly 200,000 hospitalizations during a severe flu season. Last year's vaccine was about 60 percent effective, meaning your risk of needing to see your doctor or of being hospitalized was reduced by 60 percent if you were vaccinated."
I'm not eligible/don't have time.
"If you are older than six months, you're eligible. You can schedule a convenient time with your primary care physician and most insurances cover the cost.
"Getting vaccinated also protects everyone you come in contact with. Flu viruses can spread as easily as touching a door handle or the buttons on an elevator or ATM, so you could pick up the virus - and spread it to others - several times throughout the season. So it's never too soon to roll up your sleeve to give your health - and the health of those around you - a real shot in the arm this season."