Busting the myths and misconceptions around the flu shot.

should I get a flu shot
Terry White Chemists
Thanks to our brand partner, Terry White Chemists

In our digital world, it’s relatively easy to think that we’re in charge.

That Ryan Gosling colouring book? It’s yours. An oozing cheddar toastie? Order now and have it in half an hour. A boar-bristle hairbrush straight from the hills of Sicily? It’s only three working days away.

Live with this seemingly infinite power for long enough and you could be forgiven for assuming that you are The Decision Maker.

But you’re not – we’re all at the mercy of the grande dame, Mother Nature.

With the arrival of Autumn and the Siberian winds of Winter near, it’s time to prepare. Step one is to ensure your Netflix subscription is up-to-date and step two is to go and get yourself a flu shot — because even though no one likes the flu, winter just keeps pushing it on us.

Speaking of all things flu, recently Mamamia sat down with Terry White Chemists Pharmacist, Totterman, to squash a range of misconceptions that surround the influenza virus. And what he had to say will have you rolling up your sleeves in anticipation.

Myth #1. The flu is just a bad cold.

Totterman put the kibosh on this myth by explaining that the cold and the flu are in fact, two very different types of viruses.

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He said, “Typically, the flu will result in a fever and may last anywhere from four or five days, up until a week or week and a half. It has more serious health consequences than the cold. Things like pneumonia or bronchitis and, the flu does actually result in fatalities on an annual basis throughout the world. We typically wouldn’t see that with a bad cold.”

should I get a flu shot
“The cold and the flu are in fact, two very different types of viruses.” Image via iStock.

Myth #2. You only need a flu shot once in your life.

Busting this myth Totterman said, “If you got a flu vaccination five years ago, it’s very likely that none of those strains would be circulating this year so you wouldn’t have the adequate protection.”

But why is that?

Totterman explained that the flu shot changes each and every year according to the different strains of virus that are present in the environment. To create the vaccine, scientists look to The States and Europe to determine which strains of the virus will reach our shores in time for winter — and that’s why you have to get a flu vaccination every year, it’s always a different concoction.

Myth #3. “I’m young, healthy and I’ve never had the flu before – I don’t need a flu shot.”

False!

“Generally the flu is more severe for those who are in more compromised health positions — the very, very young, the very old or the immunocompromised. But everyone is susceptible to the flu,” says Totterman.

should I get a flu shot
““I’m young, healthy and I’ve never had the flu before.” Image via iStock.

Myth #4. A doctor must administer the shot.

Totterman said that nurses are able to administer the shot and even more conveniently, a pharmacist may also do so.

He said, “You don’t have to sit in line at your doctor’s – you can simply make an appointment at your convenience, walk into your community or retail pharmacy and receive the shot when it’s a good fit for you.

“It might be on a weekend or a weeknight or it might be on your lunch break. It’s a much more convenient way of receiving your flu vaccination and what we’ve found around the world is that when pharmacists vaccinate it actually raises the overall number of vaccinations being provided.”

And that’s a very good thing. The more people that receive the flu shot, the less likely it is to circulate in a very serious way throughout the community.

Myth #5. There’s a chance you can get the flu from the flu shot.

No, you can’t. Really.

Totterman said, “The strains of flu virus that are put into the vaccine are actually dead or attenuated viruses so, there’s no way that you can develop the flu based on getting the flu shot.”

It’s thought that this misconception may stem from the fact that it takes around two weeks for your body to form the appropriate antibodies to the vaccine or “upskill,” as Totterman delightfully describes it.

That means if you happen to catch the flu before or in a relatively short time after the jab, don’t blame the shot. Feel free however, to blame your co-worker, partner or even your daily commute.

should I get a flu shot
“The strains of flu virus that are put into the vaccine are actually dead or attenuated viruses so, there’s no way that you can develop the flu based on getting the flu shot.” Image via iStock.

Myth #6. Pregnant women can’t get a flu shot.

On the contrary, the flu shot is very safe for pregnant women and according to Totterman it is to be encouraged.

Antibodies that form in response to the vaccine will not only protect a pregnant woman from the flu and the complications that come with it during her pregnancy, but will also protect the baby after birth, by way of breast milk. That is, if the mother chooses to breastfeed.

Myth #7. It’s too expensive.

Interestingly, Totterman dispelled this myth with a three-dimensional perspective. And it happens to make a lot of sense.

He said, “You need to think about the total cost of flu.”

Imagine that you contracted pneumonia — you’d likely require upwards of a week off work, a trip to the doctor, costly medication and in some cases you’d even need to pay ensuing hospital fees. Additionally, you wouldn’t be able to care for your family in the same capacity or carry on with your daily tasks of living.

If you add all of those downstream costs together, a $25 flu shot suddenly becomes an attractive winter investment.

Before winter hits, prepare yourself with a flu vaccination from Terry White Chemists. Book your appointment today at terrywhitechemists.com.au/flu or just walk in and speak to staff at your local Terry White Chemists. Simple.

What’s stopped you getting a flu shot in the past?

Every day in every little way Terry White Chemists value the health of all Australians. The vaccination provided by Terry White Chemists helps to protect against four strains of influenza, providing your best defence against the flu this winter. Book your appointment today at www.terrywhitechemists.com.au/flu or in person at your local Terry White Chemists.

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