Flu shot with masks

Flu season is upon us, and you may be wondering if you should get a flu vaccine. We have one answer – yes! It is very important to get a flu vaccine, especially this year since we are still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. If you have any concerns, let us share some facts and common myths to clear things up.

5 Facts About Flu Vaccines

Fact #1: Influenza (the flu) can be a serious illness, particularly among the young, the old, women who are pregnant and people with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, heart disease and diabetes. It also can lead to serious complications or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults, as the body works to fight the attack on the respiratory system.

Fact #2: It is safe to get a flu vaccine. There has been a lot of research that shows flu vaccines are safe. Additionally, over the past 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu shots.

Fact #3: Everyone in the family ages 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This includes young adults, African Americans and Hispanics who typically have low vaccination rates. It is especially important for people with chronic conditions like COPD, asthma, autoimmune disorders, heart disease and diabetes to get a flu shot since they are at higher risk for getting severe cases of the flu or having worse outcomes.

Fact #4: The best times to get the flu vaccine are in September and October.

Fact #5: Safety precautions against COVID-19, like masking, social distancing and disinfecting surfaces, are in place to ensure that the vaccine will be given safely, especially at University of Maryland Medical System facilities, like UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

5 Myths About Flu Vaccines

Myth #1: I already had the flu, so I'm protected against it for the rest of the year.

Fact: While you may develop immunity against the strain that infected you, there's no guarantee that you'll have immunity against other flu strains that are circulating.

Myth #2: Flu vaccines make you sick.

Fact: Some people experience short-term side effects like stuffy nose, low-grade fever, aches or fatigue, but it may be your body beginning to build antibodies against the flu and they don’t last very long.

Myth #3: There's no way drug companies can predict whether a vaccine will work for everyone.

Fact: Researchers track flu viruses around the globe year-round to determine the most effective combination of each vaccine for each coming flu season.

Myth #4: There is only one type of flu shot.

Fact: Some vaccines are intended for specific age and health risk groups, and vaccines can protect against three (trivalent) or four (quadrivalent) viruses. There is also a smaller needle vaccine that enters only the skin rather than the muscle. Your doctor will know which vaccine is right for you depending on your age, your health concerns, if you are allergic to eggs and if you are pregnant.

Myth #5: Getting the flu vaccine protects you from the coronavirus.

Fact: Getting the flu vaccine is very important for preventing influenza, but does not protect you against COVID-19 (the coronavirus). COVID-19 is a different type of virus and, although experts are working hard to develop a vaccine to protect against COVID-19, no vaccine is ready yet.

5 Additional Tips to Prevent Spreading the Flu or COVID-19

In addition to getting a flu vaccine, you should still continue to lessen chances of spreading the flu and the coronavirus by:

  1. Washing your hands frequently and properly.
  2. Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  3. Staying home if you are sick.
  4. Practicing social distancing.
  5. Wearing a mask if you go out, especially if you cannot social distance.