Flu Myths and Realities

In recent days, a talk radio host who I won’t name told his listeners not to get a flu shot because it would make them sick. The radio host went on to say that while there’s no evidence the flu vaccine causes autism, you shouldn’t blame him if you get the flu vaccine and go on to develop autism.

All of this is rubbish. More than that, it’s dangerous.

Some facts:

  • The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.
  • The flu vaccine does not give you autism or any other illness, disease, or disorder.
  • People who are not immunized against the flu can transmit the virus to other people, particularly the very young and the very old. You do not need to fall ill with the flu to give it to someone else.
  • This year’s flu vaccine immunizes patients against three strains of the flu. The vaccine has proved remarkably effective in preventing the flu among recipients.
  • The reason we’re seeing people still coming down with the flu despite the best efforts of doctors and public health officials is because not everyone has gotten a flu shot.

As you can see here in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s weekly reports, the Commonwealth saw a major spike in doctors treating influenza-like illnesses at the end of last year. But historically, the flu tends to make a comeback every February, which is why the DPH is still urging people to get flu shots. The vaccine can take up to two weeks to be integrated into your immune system, which means that if you haven’t done so already, you should GET A FLU SHOT. Cantabrigians and Somervillians can learn more about how to get a free flu shot here.

The DPH has already distributed 760,000 free vaccines across the state, with another 28,000 on its way. Thanks to the hard work of the folks at DPH, Massachusetts is in line to receive a vaccine forĀ children of low-income familiesĀ in February once the CDC certifies that particular vaccine. DPH has also issued guidelines to the Commonwealth’s pharmacists to allow them to make their own generic versions of Tamiflu in case local shortages occur. We have the tools to beat the flu, we just need to use them properly.

The flu vaccine works. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

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