Well, okay… maybe it was a big deal, because it was my FIRST flu shot EVER.
But really, it’s business as usual here. I didn’t get the flu immediately after taking it; I didn’t suffer any strange side effects and my arm definitely didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. All in all, I pretty much felt the same – except now, I’m less likely to contract the flu this season. Sounds very straightforward and reasonable… so *why* did it take me so long to get myself vaccinated?
The truth is, I believed in the myths that I stated above. I actually thought that taking the vaccine might give me the flu, and after watching my husband whine and complain about how much it hurts (he takes the flu shot annually) I’ll admit I was hesitant to take it on the wuss-factor alone. But this flu season, with one vacation under my belt and another just days away, I decided not to take chances with my health or the health of my family.
That’s me in a photograph taken last month. I’m enjoying the stunning winter wonderland that is Mont Tremblant, and am healthy, energized and most-importantly, flu-free!
Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t actually think I’m Superwoman or immune to contracting the flu. But with careful hygiene (hand washing and sanitizing) and healthy eating habits, I’m much less likely to succumb to the dreaded virus. (And if I do, I’ll hopefully have a shorter, less intense bout of illness and recover more quickly.)
Are you on the fence about getting the flu shot? Here are some myths – BUSTED! – for you:
1. The flu vaccine gives you the flu.
FALSE. Flu vaccinations delivered via a needle are either made with an ‘inactivated’ flu virus that’s not infectious, or with no flu virus at all.
2. You don’t need to get the flu vaccine every year.
FALSE. The 2015 Shoppers Drug Mart Flu Poll revealed that 53% of Canadians do not believe they need to get the flu shot each year. But pharmacists warn Canadian’s – “Don’t Miss Out!”. In order to best protect yourself from the flu you need to be vaccinated annually. Canadians can drop in to their local Shoppers Drug Mart any time of day (no appointment!) to get vaccinated this season.
3. You should wait until the height of flu season to get vaccinated so you’re protected for longer.
FALSE. While it’s never too late to get vaccinated, it’s best to receive your flu shot soon after it’s available, likely October. The antibodies delivered via the flu vaccine that protect you against infection take up to two weeks to take effect, and since the flu peaks between December – February it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
4. Pregnant women need to get consent from their doctor prior to receiving the flu vaccine.
FALSE. There is no recommendation for pregnant women to seek consent from their doctor prior to vaccination. However, there are some people who should seek their doctors’ advice prior to being vaccinated, including those who have a moderate-to-severe illness and patients with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
5. You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
FALSE. Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.
This season, do yourself a favour. Do your family and co-workers a favour. Heck, do EVERYONE around you a favour and get the shot! According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, flu cases result in approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and, on average, 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. Take care of yourself!