Facts about the flu shot to share with patients & staff

Facts about the Flu Shot by Dr. John Crosby

1. The flu shot cannot give you the flu. It is a dead virus and when people say they got the flu from the flu shot they have actually contracted the common cold, which is prevalent at the same time of year that flu shots are given.

2. “The flu shot has serious side-effects.” False. I have been giving it for 24 years to more than 10,000 people, including myself and my family members, and have never had a serious reaction reported.

3. “The flu shot should not be given to pregnant women.” False. It is recommended for all pregnant women to protect them and the baby.

4. “The flu shot hurts.” Myth. It doesn’t. You can get it in nasal spray if needles worry you.

5. “I never get the flu.” You have been lucky; anyone can get it.

6. “The flu shot is free in Ontario.” True. In the U.S. it can cost $40.

7. “The flu shot is convenient.” True. It takes one minute to receive it.

8. “The flu is just like a cold.” False. Flu is short for influenza, and it is a killer. Many Canadians die of it yearly, especially the old, the very young and those with health issues such as chronic lung, kidney or liver disease. It strikes hard those who have cancer, diabetes, heart disease or are on cortisone or who have low immunity. It starts with a high fever, severe muscle pain and cough. It can turn into pneumonia, which can be fatal.

The only reason to not get a flu shot is if you are allergic to eggs or are younger than six months of age.

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Dr. John Crosby is a family physician in Cambridge, Ont., as well as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and family Medicine at McMaster and Queens Universities.