Oct. 10, 2018
Get your flu shot: We bust five common myths about the influenza vaccination
Over the years, you’ve probably heard plenty of people declare their reasons for skipping the flu shot. Before you take their word for it and embark on flu season unprotected, hear out Brendan Webster, occupational health nurse with Staff Wellness, as he busts five common myths about influenza vaccine.
Myth 1. Getting the flu shot is too inconvenient
Getting a flu shot on UCalgary campuses is extremely convenient — just drop in for a free flu shot at one of six UCalgary campuses Oct. 15 to Nov. 5:
- Foothills campus, Oct. 15 and 16 — walk in or make an appointment (students, faculty or staff)
- Main campus, Oct. 17 to 26 — walk-in only (students, faculty or staff)
- SMART building, Oct. 29 — walk in or make an appointment (SMART building employees only)
- Downtown Campus, Oct. 30 — walk in or make an appointment (students, faculty or staff)
- Spyhill campus, Nov. 2 — walk-in only (students, faculty or staff)
- Olympic Volunteer Centre, Nov. 5 — walk in or make an appointment (students, faculty or staff)
View the complete schedule and appointment availability for all campuses.
Even including the mandatory 15-minute after-vaccination waiting period, getting your flu shot on campus will take less than 25 minutes.
“We try to make the process as smooth as possible,” says Webster. “Our goal is to keep the wait to be seen under five minutes. If you make an appointment or come at a low-demand time, you could be done and on your way back at your desk in just 20 minutes.
Myth 2. The flu shot will give me the flu.
The flu shot cannot give you the flu. Flu viruses in the vaccine are dead and a dead virus cannot infect you — it just can’t.
"Some people might feel a bit under the weather after a flu shot — muscle aches or an achy arm at the injection site, but it is not possible to contract the flu from a flu shot,” says Webster.
Myth 3. Flu shots don’t work — I once got the flu a week after I was vaccinated.
It is possible to get sick if you were exposed to influenza virus prior to your vaccination taking effect, which can take up to two weeks after your shot — all the more reason to get vaccinated as early in the flu season as possible.
It is also possible — though not common — to become infected with a virus strain that was not included in the vaccine for that year.
“The World Health Organization does a great job of predicting what influenza viruses will be most widespread during a given flu season,” says Webster. “A person could get sick from a virus strain that was not included in the vaccine but even then, influenza vaccine may provide partial protection and limit the illness and symptoms that you experience."
Remember, some folks think the flu is any gastrointestinal illness — that’s a common misconception. Vomiting and diarrhea are not primary symptoms of influenza.
Myth 4. I never get the flu — and it’s all about me!
Optimally, the flu vaccine will prevent you from getting the flu, but that's just one important reason to get immunized. Vaccination also protects members of vulnerable populations like babies, seniors and immune-compromised people.
Your immune system may be strong enough to protect you from experiencing flu symptoms, but what about your grandparents, your baby nephew, or your friend with a weakened immune system?
“Some vulnerable people may not receive flu vaccination, but if the people around them are vaccinated, we collectively develop herd immunity that protects them,” says Webster.
Myth 5. Getting sick with the flu is no big deal
During the 2017/18 flu season, 64 people died from the flu in Alberta. It’s estimated that influenza causes approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
“We saw one of our most severe flu seasons last winter,” says Webster. “Getting the flu is not a big deal for some of us, but it is deadly for others. The flu isn’t going anywhere so we need to make an effort to get immunized and stay protected.”
Free influenza immunizations are offered to the UCalgary community thanks to partnerships with SU Wellness, Staff Wellness and the Students’ Union.