Just like clockwork, with the start of fall, flu season is in full-swing.
And like every flu season that I can remember, doctors' offices and pharmacies all across the country are encouraging patients to get vaccinated. It's an effective way to stay healthy during the upcoming months.
Surprisingly, though, only half of all Americans received the flu vaccine last year. (Honestly, I was one of them.) While everyone has their own reasons for avoiding the painful prick by an MD, a lot of them stem from myths.
Here are five things most people believe about the influenza vaccine -- but are totally false.
1. Myth: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
The Truth: According to pediatrician Dr. Daniel McGee, if you become sick shortly after receiving a flu shot, your illness may have nothing to do with influenza at all. He goes on to say, "you can get muscle aches and a little bit of fever after the flu shot but that just means it's working, that doesn't mean it's giving you the flu."
2. Myth: I've already had the flu; I don't need the shot this year.
The Truth: The strain of influenza that made its way through your community last year isn't the same one circulating this year. The virus is always mutating so new vaccines are crafted every season. One shot isn't going to guarantee protection five years from now.
3. Myth: My child is too young to get the flu shot.
The Truth: The Centers for Disease Control recommends anyone over the age of six months receive a flu shot.
4. Myth: Healthy people don't need to be vaccinated.
The Truth: While the flu shot is highly encouraged for those already suffering from a chronic illness, it's also recommended that everyone receive the immunization. Twenty to 30 percent of healthy people can still possess and pass on the disease without ever showing symptoms.
5. Myth: The flu is just a bad cold.
The Truth: While the flu and the common cold can share a variety of symptoms, a cold doesn't cause more than 36,000 deaths or send 200,000 people to the hospital each year.
Don't let the flu stand in your way of enjoying what's left of fall. Now that you know the truth, consider getting your flu shot today.
To find a vaccination location near you, go here.