Big myth around the flu shot

By | May 24, 2019

It looks increasingly likely this will be one of Australia’s worst flu seasons on record, yet despite the potentially deadly consequences, some people still refuse to be vaccinated.

Last year, half of Aussies admitted they had no plans to get a flu shot, with a bizarre misconception fuelling many of these decisions.

The main reason people didn’t get the jab in 2018 was because they believed it made them sick, according to a Finder.com.au survey of over 2000 people.

This misconceptions comes up every flu season and is likely to be one of the reasons some Aussies skip out on this year’s vaccine.

According to Dr Daria Fielder, owner of Sapphire Family Health Practice, getting the flu while vaccinated is not because of the shot.

The reason you still might get sick is from people choosing not to vaccinate and causing the spread of different strains of virus.

“Influenza vaccine is an inactive vaccine and therefore it is unable to give you the flu. It does have some side effects, which commonly include pain in the arm or a fever, however it will not make you sick,” Dr Fielder said.

“In an ideal world, of course it would be better if everyone receives vaccination. If only some are vaccinated, the virus will continue to spread in the community.”

The 2019 flu season started early and has already claimed at least 90 lives, surpassing the 57 flu-related deaths that occurred throughout 2018.

This year there has already been 49,072 cases of the flu recorded — over three times more than the same period last year.

And the worst is yet to come, with flu cases usually spiking around August.

Each year scientists calculate the probability of which strains are likely to be the most problematic, as they cannot include all of them in the vaccine.

“However, if you get your flu vaccine every year you reduce your overall chance of contracting influenza virus significantly,” Dr Fielder said.

Generation X is the age group most suspicious of the vaccine, with 18 per cent believing it doesn’t work, while only 10 per cent of the younger generation agree.

In many cases, people who contract influenza will be incredibly sick and unable to work for around seven to 10 days.

Even in mild cases, victims are likely to have to take at least a few days off work, personal finance expert at Finder, Kate Browne, said.

“Flu season has started early this year, with an abnormal amount of Australians contracting the disease in the first few months of the year,” she said.

“A few health funds will cover you for the flu shot, so check your policy. If you are covered you should consider getting the vaccine, as even mild cases can see you out of work for a few days.”

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