Flu Shot Myths: Know the Facts

As area families settle into their fall routines and students adjust to their back-to-school schedules – and encounter back-to-school germs –  it’s crucial to separate flu fact from fallacy. As flu season approaches, Chief Medical Officer at Bancroft and Marcroft Medical Associates, Dr. Kurt Miceli, busts the myths.

Like it or not, fall is here. And for medical professionals, the season means so much more than hayrides and pumpkin spice lattes. In fact, fall is synonymous with flu season, and as a nurse practitioner who works with individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities at Bancroft and its affiliated medical practice, Marcroft in Voorhees, preventing the flu becomes one of my top priorities as soon as I see the first leaf fall.

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Fortunately, the precautions we take at Bancroft to keep the population we serve healthy can be applied to all children and families. And, the most effective tactics are simple and free! We hear the same tips every year because they work: wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you feel ill to prevent spreading your germs, etc. And while these are all terrific steps to stay healthy, as a medical professional, I know it’s even more important to demystify some potentially dangerous and common flu myths. Below, some of the most frequently recurring flu fallacies and the truth behind them:

“Avoid the flu shot – it can make you sick!”

Medical professionals hear this myth every year – and it frustrates us! No, the flu shot cannot give you the flu! If people experience any symptoms at all, they are normally mild and related to the injection site – slight redness or swelling that subsides in a day. If you happen to run a low-grade fever the day following the shot, chances are you were brewing a mild illness before the flu vaccine.

“I received my flu shot last year, I don’t need another one.”

Not true! The flu vaccine’s efficacy decreases after six months. The CDC recommends annual vaccinations for almost every person over six months old – and receiving the shot in September or October each year gives you the best chance of staying healthy through the duration of cold weather season. Yearly vaccines are crucial – even when the flu virus is the same year-to-year.

“School’s already in session – no sense in getting vaccinated now. It’s too late.”

This is absolutely false. The seasonal flu can occur as late as May every year and as long as the virus is still circulating, the CDC recommends individuals receive the vaccination. While late September and October vaccinations are ideal, you can still receive the shot throughout the season, even in the springtime. But remember – many physicians’ offices and urgent care centers order a finite number of shots annually, and often run out. Accessing the vaccine late into the season might be difficult, so the sooner you vaccinate, the better.

This season, take the extra step to learn about flu misconceptions and ways to combat them. Practice good hygiene, especially as kids are back in school and the weather turns cooler and keep your family safe and healthy all fall and winter. And remember, always refer to your family’s primary care physician if you have questions.

About Marcroft

Marcroft is a specialized medical practice of psychiatric, behavioral health and neurological experts who practice an interdisciplinary approach to treating people with neurological conditions as well as those with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout their lives. Specializing in psychiatry, behavioral health and neurology, our expert team of physicians and clinicians provide world-class care.

Marcroft is conveniently located in Voorhees, N.J., and is the affiliated medical practice of Cherry Hill-based Bancroft. If you or a loved one could benefit from Marcroft’s specialized services, call 856-524-7243.

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