Flu Myths Abound In Flu Season

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"As a physician, you hear all sorts of excuses for not getting a flu shot," says Dr. Terry D. Hashey, Medical Director of First Coast Family Medicine and clinical spokesperson for Jacksonville's third annual Golden Corral Flu Campaign. The most common that Dr. Hashey reports is the excuse that people always get the flu from the flu shot.

"That couldn't be farther from the truth. The flu shot is safe and can prevent you from getting influenza that may lead to serious complications like pneumonia and even death." Dr. Hashey explains that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people do not get the flu from a flu shot. The flu vaccine that is recommended for most individuals, including those age 50 or over, is the inactivated influenza vaccine. This vaccine contains non-infectious, killed viruses, so it cannot cause the flu.

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"And, although there may be some side effects from the shot, they are mild," assures Dr. Hashey. "What's important to remember is that thousands of people die from the flu each year and a little bit of brief discomfort up front can save your life."

Another myth is that only older people should get the flu shot. While it is important that people 50 years of age or older get a flu shot every year, Dr. Hashey advises that people with certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, asthma and other lung diseases, cancer and diseases that weaken the immune system should get an annual flu shot to protect against influenza.

Influenza is a highly contagious disease, which kills an average of 36,000 people each year. He also urges family members or others who come in close contact with people at risk to get an annual flu shot as well.

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