National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 7-13, 2014. This is the week which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have designated to help you to get that influenza, or flu, shot you have been putting off all fall.
Perhaps more importantly, the CDC hopes that it reminds you to make sure that the young children and older adults in your life receive the flu vaccine too! And for anyone who is worried about the effects of having the flu vaccine, it will not make you sick.
To be clear, getting the flu shot will not give you the flu.
Dr. Gregory A. Poland, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is quoted in a Reuters’ article as saying, “It is absolutely biologically impossible to get the flu from the vaccine.”
Poland studies the immunogenetics of vaccine response and is well aware of the myth that receiving the flu vaccine will make someone sick with the flu. It will not!
National Influenza Vaccination Week was created in 2005 to emphasize the importance of receiving the annual flu vaccine, and as a side effect, to dispel the myth that the flu vaccine can give you the flu.
The CDC wants to increase the number of people who receive the flu vaccine in the months of December, January, February and beyond, though they do recommend getting the vaccine as early in the season as possible.
Many Americans have already received their flu vaccine this year. As of November 14, 2014, the CDC reported that about 139.7 million doses of this year’s influenza vaccine had been distributed to those who provide vaccinations in the United States.
Many Americans may downplay the importance of getting the flu vaccine, but influenza is a serious disease. For thousands of people each year, it can even be fatal.
Experts, including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recommend that everyone over the age of six months receive the flu vaccine. People who are at a higher risk for complications if they contracted the flu are strongly urged to get the vaccine.
These include children under the age of five (and especially children under two years of age), women who are pregnant, adults over the age of 65, and anyone with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
In the United States, flu season typically runs from October until as late as May, peaking in January or later.
Flu season is the time of the year that the flu viruses are circulating at higher rates through the American population, but you could contract the flu at any time.
The best way to avoid contracting the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine.
National Influenza Awareness week is aimed at letting people know it is definitely not too late now to get your annual flu shot. The greater the number of people who get vaccinated against the flu, the less likely the flu will be able to spread through communities nationwide.
Getting the flu vaccine can be simple and painless. The flu vaccine is distributed through a flu shot or a nasal spray, and is available through doctor’s offices. It's also available through walk-in clinics, drugstore pharmacies, and even some schools and work places have flu vaccine clinics now.
According to the CDC, “While a flu vaccine cannot give you flu illness, there are different side effects that may be associated with getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. These side effects are mild and short-lasting, especially when compared to symptoms of bad case of flu.”
The CDC and other health agencies don’t care how you get the flu vaccine ... they just care that you get it at all.
Have you gotten your flu shot yet this year?
CDC.gov. Web. 7 December, 2014. “Announcements: National Influenza Vaccination Week — December 7–13, 2014”
CDC.gov. Web. 10 December 2014. “Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine”.
Foxnews.com. Web. 10 December 2014. “Nearly half of all Americans think the flu shot can make you sick.”
Reviewed December 11, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith