OCEAN COUNTY – The Ocean County Health Department wants to help residents understand facts vs. myths when it comes to the seasonal flu and flu vaccines.
“People should do their homework when it comes to their families’ health and safety. And when it comes to the flu it’s understandable that individuals have so many questions when it comes to the facts,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Trust the health experts. They can decipher the facts from myths and help understand what the best course is for you.”
Every year, OCHD officials are asked these three common questions:
- Can a flu vaccine give you the flu?
- Does the flu vaccine cover all strains of flu?
- Do I need a flu shot every year?
To the first question, health experts say no; the flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: with the ‘inactivated’ (killed) virus, which is not infectious, or with only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.
According to OCHD officials, some people report feeling sick after getting their flu vaccine, despite these facts. This can be due to:
- Some people can become ill from other respiratory viruses besides flu such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu, and also spread and cause illness during the flu season.
- It is possible to be exposed to influenza viruses, which cause the flu, shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before protection from the vaccine takes effect.
- Some may have been exposed to a flu virus that is unique from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people but are not included for protection in the current vaccines.
- And, the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works and some people who get vaccinated may still get sick.
Another common question OCHD hears each year is this: Do I need the flu shot every year? The answer is yes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot annually because a person’s immune protection from vaccines wears down over time.
“The bottom line is that flu vaccines can and do save lives,” said Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “It’s important to speak with your health care provider if you need more information and facts regarding any vaccines. Remember, the internet doesn’t always have the best information that would pertain specifically to you or your family.”
For more information about the flu or for a clinic schedule, visit the OCHD website at ochd.org.