It might seem strange, given the weather, but believe it or not many states in the U.S. are already making the 2011-2012 seasonal flu shot available. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic taught us that while the flu season traditionally starts in October influenza is an unpredictable illness and can occur in the spring and summer months. If you are one of the thousands of Americans who have become disenchanted with the flu shot, or vaccines in general, here are some facts from the CDC that will hopefully encourage you to get the vaccine:
- The flu shot is incapable of causing the flu, although the nasal mist can rarely cause symptoms of the flu. If you developed flu-like symptoms after receiving the shot you have come into contact with a virus that the vaccine does not cover. A low grade fever is a normal immune reaction to the vaccine and does not mean that you have the flu but that your immune system is heightened and ready to develop antibodies against the flu viruses covered by the vaccine.
- While it is possible to have allergic reactions or other complications from vaccines they are extremely rare. The CDC tracks adverse reactions to all vaccines so if you have a negative reaction to the seasonal flu shot you should report it to the CDC via the phone number listed on their website.
- The CDC estimates that between 1976 and 2006 up to 49,000 people died from flu complications.
- Complications of the flu include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of diseases such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.
- The mercury based preservative thimerosal has never been proven to cause autism despite numerous studies.
- Thimerosal was removed from all new vaccines in 2001. While it is still contained in multi-dose vials of the seasonal flu vaccine it is not contained in single-dose vials. Therefore, if you are concerned about thimerosal you can call to find a doctor or pharmacist who is using the single-dose vials and rest assured that you are not getting thimerosal along with your vaccine.
- Low vaccination rates correlate with a more severe flu season.
- The 2009 pandemic again proved the unpredictability of this disease when it killed several young healthy adults. The CDC now recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months who has not previously had a serious reaction to the flu vaccine or an allergy to chicken eggs and who is not currently suffering from the flu or a cold receive the seasonal flu shot.
- While there are two anti-viral medications on the market to treat the flu, the flu virus is already developing resistance to these medications.
For tons more information visit the CDC's website and talk to your doctor.