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The truth about the flu vaccine

Flu season is almost here, which means it might be time to schedule your flu shot. Many people are confused what exactly is meant by the term “flu” since it is often applied to different illnesses. When medical professionals talk about the flu vaccine, they are referring to the contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. The influenza virus is more severe than a cold virus and often begins with a fever.

The flu vaccine addresses the serious influenza virus that is responsible for 36,000 deaths and sends more than 200,000 people to the hospital each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although it only takes a minute to receive the vaccine, many people avoid getting one due to several misconceptions. Here are some of these untruths about the vaccine with clarification from the CDC.

The flu shot can give you the flu.
The vaccine is created from an inactivated virus which can’t transmit infection. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be ready to protect you from the flu virus. If a person gets the flu shortly after getting the shot, they most likely were already infected and therefore, developed the flu.

If you’re healthy, you don’t need to get the flu shot.
While it is true that people who have chronic illnesses are encouraged to get the vaccine, it does not mean that no one else should have it. The flu can infect even the healthiest person. The current guidelines are for children between the ages of 6 months and 19 years to receive the vaccine, as well as everyone over the age of 49. If you’re in a situation with constant public contact like a school teacher or a health care worker, you might also want to get the vaccine since 20 to 30 percent of the people who are carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms but can still spread the illness.

I don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
Each year the flu vaccine changes so the vaccine you received last year may not work on this year’s influenza virus strain. Also, the level of protection decreases over time so even if this year’s strain is similar to last year’s strain, you may not have sufficient protection.

I’m going to wait until the flu season is in full swing so that I’m protected when the virus is being passed around.
The CDC suggests getting immunized around the end of October. The most outbreaks happen from December through February but it can start in November or earlier. It is important to also remember that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to protect you from the flu virus. If you forget to get the shot in October, you can still have it in November, December, January or later. Protection from the virus lasts several months for most people, which should get you through the periods of  high flu activity.

Some flu shots are better than others.
There are several different types of flu vaccines. All of them offer protection against the most common strains but some have additional protection, which may or may not be effective for you. Your doctor can recommend which is best for you. In the past, a nasal spray flu vaccine was introduced but the CDC has not recommended using it for several years because studies have shown that is not very effective in preventing the flu. Some people also wrongly believe that building up resistance by getting the flu is more effective than getting the vaccine. This reasoning is not sound because any flu infection can result in serious complications, especially in children and older adults. The best plan is to have the vaccine every year.

The importance of recovery
Whether you were hospitalized for the flu, surgery or other medical event, it is important to seek out the best care possible during recovery for the fewest complications. This is the reason many people choose to recover in short-term rehabilitation centers like Whitehall of Deerfield where there is a dedicated staff to care for all your medical needs from pain management to progressive rehabilitation. When a quick and effective recovery is your goal, Whitehall of Deerfield is a wise choice.

In addition to addressing your medical needs, Whitehall of Deerfield’s staff is also ready to provide the extras to make your stay comfortable. They believe in pampering their guests with spacious, well-appointed rooms featuring many amenities including concierge service, daily delivery of Starbucks coffee and newspaper, high-speed wireless internet and dozens of cable channels with a 24-hour channel of newly released movies. Guests select meals from menus and enjoy them in attractive dining rooms. There are also complimentary fresh-baked treats and ice cream available at an on-site ice cream parlor and coffee shop.

See for yourself if recovering at Whitehall of Deerfield is the best choice by requesting a private tour.

To learn more, visit whitehallofdeerfield.com or call 847-945-4600.

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