Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorMillions of Americans are lining up to get their flu vaccines. Millions more will run in the other direction.

So which group of vaccination lemmings will you decide to join? The “get all of the help I can” or “I’m fine and don’t believe anyone who tells me I need one” group?

A lot of the indecision … or just plain stubborn decision … revolves around the rumors and myths that infect society about influenza.

Here’s some info to set you straight:

A. The flu vaccine is perfect: No, nope, never. Last year’s was only 65 percent effective in preventing flu. But one key fact to keep in mind is even if you are in the group that gets sick despite a vaccine, your illness will be milder and shorter.

B. The flu vaccine will make me sick: If you get a flu shot – that’s so false it’s not funny. I don’t care if you have the greatest story in the world as in “One year I got the shot and then got really sick the next day.” It can’t happen. A flu shot is made with dead virus cells. Dead. That means dead. Killed. Destroyed. You cannot get sick from something that is inactivated and dead. Unless you are a zombie.

C. I can’t get a flu vaccine if I have a mild cold: Actually you can. But we don’t like vaccinating people who are really sick, as in feverish, since the vaccine may not take. Meaning, the immune system is so busy with your illness, it can’t react well to your vaccine. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get sicker. You just won’t be as protected. Nonetheless, be as healthy as possible when vaccinated.

D. I’m healthy. Why waste my time? Answer: Sure, it’s those who are older or have other chronic illnesses that we really worry about. But every year I see King-Kong healthy people moaning on a stretcher sick with flu. And even if you don’t get that sick, it will take about 3 weeks to get your sea-legs back — meaning, you’re are at risk for every other bug under the sun. BTW, the No. 1 cause of death from flu is Heart Attack.

E. I’m allergic to eggs: Sorry, this one doesn’t work any longer. We now have a vaccine that doesn’t involve the use of eggs in its production.

F. I got a vaccine last year, so I should be good to go. After all, a tetanus shot is only every 10 years: Sorry again. The strains of flu change each year, so last years vaccine is worthless this year.

When it comes to flu, it’s your call. But the vaccine is safe, and though not perfect, it’s pretty effective. I really would hate to see you get wheeled into my ER when you could have avoided the trip in the first place.

Hope not to see you this winter.


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