Answers to common questions about the flu shot

Answers to common questions about the flu shot

One of my many roles as the occupational health nurse with Marshall Health is to administer flu vaccines to our staff, physicians and medical students.  Marshall Health was one of the first health care organizations in the area to mandate flu vaccines for their employees. This is becoming an industry standard and the idea is to keep us, as healthcare providers, from spreading the flu to our patients or bringing it home to our families.

During the course of my work day, I’m asked lots of questions about the flu vaccine but there are two questions that I’m repeatedly asked…

“Am I going to get sick if I take the flu shot?”

Some people report body aches or fatigue after receiving the flu vaccine, but it shouldn’t make you sick. I remind our employees that the fall and winter months are typically when we get sick with colds, so symptoms are often mistaken for side effects of receiving the flu vaccine. Most people have no side effects at all from their flu vaccine. It’s important to remember that the flu vaccine will not keep you from getting a cold.

“Why is it so important to get a flu vaccine? I never get sick.”

While some of us may have good immune systems and avoid catching colds or the flu, others are not so fortunate. We can be infected with the flu and not feel sick but still spread it to patients, co-workers and our families.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most healthy adults may begin infecting others beginning one (1) day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

We’ve all heard tragic stories of young, healthy people dying from the flu. Every year thousands of people die from flu-related deaths. The CDC estimates that as many as 49,000 people die each year from the flu, compared to 33,783 deaths from motor vehicle accidents. Many more will be hospitalized or seek medical attention because of flu-related illnesses, resulting in loss of wages and time away from work. By taking a few minutes out of your day to receive your flu vaccine, you’re doing your part to keep you, your family and your friends healthy.

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Diane Alcorn, RN, BSN

Diane is the clinical coordinator for the division of occupational health & wellness at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. She graduated from the Marshall University School of Nursing and has worked in Marshall’s department of family medicine since 1996.

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