In the 2019-2020 season, influenza caused 39-56 million illnesses and 24-62 thousand deaths. Due to relaxed guidelines and increased contact with others as compared to last year, it is important to prepare for the upcoming flu season. Some employees may choose to forgo vaccination because they believe in common myths about the flu and the vaccine. By looking into some of the common myths, you may be able to better educate your employees, address their concerns and encourage them to get vaccinated.
6 Workplace Flu Vaccine Myths
“I should wait until later in the season to get my flu shot”
You shouldn’t wait until flu symptoms start spreading around the workplace. The best time to get a flu vaccine is before flu season is underway. It takes about two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies needed to protect against the flu virus. Ideally, you should be vaccinated by the end of October if possible. However, there is no cut off point in the season for you to be eligible for the flu vaccine. Receiving the vaccine in November or December is better than not being vaccinated at all.
“If I get the shot, I will get the flu”
While some people may experience mild side effects after receiving the vaccination, it is not possible to get the flu from the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is made with an inactivated form to the virus which cannot infect the cells in your body. It does take two weeks to build immunity to the virus, so there is a chance for infection immediately after the vaccine administration and up to two weeks after.
“I got a shot last year, so I don’t need another one”
A person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time. Having a flu vaccine each year is needed for optimal protection. Additionally, vaccines are an effective form of prevention because they are very specific. Each year a new formulation of the flu vaccine is developed to target the variations of the flu that are expected to be most widespread.
“The flu is spread by touching contaminated, shared surfaces”
The flu virus can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours and can transfer to coworkers this way, but it is most commonly spread through the respiratory droplets, like those created from coughing or sneezing. These droplets are sent into the air, traveling up to 6 feet and can infect any coworkers that are in close contact. It is important to follow sanitary procedures such as covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and sanitizing desks and other shared workspaces.
“It isn’t safe to go out during the COVID-19 pandemic to get a flu vaccine”
Getting a flu vaccine is just as important this year as any other year but there are some precautions that need to be taken to prevent yourself from getting COVID-19. While getting your flu vaccine, follow recommendations such as wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds, and maintaining six feet of distance from others when possible.
“I received the COVID-19 vaccine, so I can’t get the flu vaccine”
According to the CDC, there is no interaction between the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine, and both are essential to maintaining optimal health. The CDC also recommends that if you are due for both vaccines, it is best to receive both at the same visit.
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CDC Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2021-2022 Season.9/29/2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2021-2022.htm