Posted on 10/25/2017 at 10:51 AM by Troy Cummings
Flu Shots for Don Hummer Trucking Employees
It’s that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and everyone around you has a cough or a runny nose. You probably remember what to do to minimize your chances of catching a cold – wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, eat healthy and get enough rest. These same tricks work to prevent the flu, but you have one other option – getting a flu shot.
Hy-Vee’s Healthy You Mobile Clinic will be at the Don Hummer Trucking Safety Office on October 26, 27, and 30 before and after the quarterly safety meetings to provide flu shots for those who wish to be vaccinated. The vaccination is free with most insurance plans (including Don Hummer Trucking’s medical insurance plan), so bring your insurance card with you. If you do not have insurance coverage, the cost is $30, payable by cash or check.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding flu shots. Let’s take a look at some common arguments against getting vaccinated.
- “I got a flu shot, but I still got sick.”
- The flu shot protects against influenza, a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. What most people call “the flu” is actually gastroenteritis, caused by a norovirus or rotavirus infection, which results in vomiting and other unpleasant symptoms. The influenza vaccine won’t protect you against the viruses that cause stomach flu, but it will protect you against influenza.
- That said, there are different strains of influenza, and scientists can only do their best to predict which strains will be more prevalent in a given year. If you come into contact with a viral strain that is different from the ones you’ve been vaccinated against, you may still become ill. However, the flu shot may still provide you with partial immunity, which means your symptoms may be less severe and you may recover faster than if you hadn’t had a flu shot at all.
- “I got the flu FROM getting a flu shot.”
- The influenza vaccine is made from either dead (in needle form) or severely weakened (nasal spray form) influenza virus, so you won’t catch the flu from the vaccine. However, the point of getting the vaccine is so your immune system will produce antibodies and T-lymphocytes – cells that will recognize and attack the flu virus if you should come into contact with the live virus. You may experience some milder symptoms, such as soreness at the injection site, a mild fever, or fatigue, as your immune system kicks in; but those symptoms are nowhere near the misery that an actual influenza infection would cause.
- Another possibility is that you came into contact with someone who had influenza just before or just after you were vaccinated. It takes a few weeks for your body to produce enough antibodies and T-lymphocytes to prevent infection, so if you are exposed to the virus before that immunity has been built up, you may come down with influenza.
- “Herd immunity will protect me.”
- Community or “herd” immunity is defined as “the immunity or resistance to a particular infection that occurs in a group of people or animals when a very high percentage of individuals have been vaccinated or previously exposed to the infection.” In other words, you’re less likely to get sick if everyone around you is vaccinated because there’s no one for you to catch the illness from. However, it only works for you if you never, ever come into contact with a person who has influenza. It only takes one person to pass it on to you, and you can’t guarantee you won’t run into that person.
- There are people whose only defense against influenza is herd immunity. Children younger than 6 months old are too young to receive the vaccine. People whose immune systems have been compromised may be vaccinated, but the vaccine is likely to be less effective because their immune systems may not produce enough antibodies and T-lymphocytes to prevent infection. Some of these same people are at a higher risk of severe complications or even death from influenza, for the same reason they are at a higher risk for catching it – their immune systems aren’t strong enough to handle the virus. Every unvaccinated person they encounter is a risk factor because a person can be contagious before they ever start showing the symptoms. So getting the flu shot doesn’t just protect you – it also protects people who can’t be protected any other way except by herd immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WebMD have some great articles on vaccines if you’d like to know more.
Understanding How Vaccines Work (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf
Myths and Facts About Vaccines for Adults: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/vaccines/myths-facts-about-vaccines?page=1
Written by Jen Casebolt