Tag Archives: flu shot

Debunking Flu Vaccine Myths

Now is the right time to get a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sporadic flu activity is already being reported in 42 states across the nation, including South Carolina. The flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from the flu. But a lot of people choose not to get it, saying it will give them flu symptoms or that it’s not worth it because doesn’t always work against all strains of the flu. In this WLTX news report, Dr. Joshua Prince of Lexington Family Medicine, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, debunks these flu vaccine myths.

One common rumor is that the flu vaccine will give you the flu. Dr. Prince says that’s absolutely false. The flu vaccine provides your immune system with a process to build antibodies that will either prevent you from getting the flu, or help you fight the flu.

Some people may have mild reactions to the flu shot including body aches lasting one or two days. Dr. Prince says that’s much better than getting the flu. The flu will invade your nasal passages, throat and lungs – and the body aches and fever can be devastating, leading to hospitalization or even death.

Another reason some people skip the flu shot is that it’s not always effective against all strains. For example, last year’s flu shot was only about 30% effective. Dr. Prince says the vaccine is still worth it. While a number of influenza viruses do exist, we have the best flu vaccine that experts can make every year. A lot of research goes into preparing the vaccine each year and we should take advantage of it. The effectiveness does vary from year to year, but even if it’s only 10 to 30 percent effective, that’s better than nothing.

Flu Season Update

We continue to have a higher than average flu season – and there’s no sign that it’s letting up.

In December 2017, Lexington Medical Center’s Emergency department and five Urgent Care centers in Lexington County diagnosed 556 cases of the flu. From January 1 to 18, hospital clinicians diagnosed 1079 cases – exceeding the total for December within just the first half of January.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the prominent strain is H3N2, which clinicians call one of the more severe strains of the flu. The biggest uptick in cases seemed to be during the second week of January.

Health experts emphasize that it’s not too late to get a flu shot. While there has been some concern that the vaccine is not effective this year, this year’s flu shot contains protection for a strain similar to H3N2. In fact, clinicians estimate the vaccine is about 35% effective, which is higher than previously thought. And it’s still more effective than not getting the vaccine.

Clinicians also point out that rapid flu swab tests are not 100% accurate. It’s possible to receive a false negative. So, they advise treating your illness like the flu even with a negative flu test. That’s especially true for the elderly, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, or who have chronic respiratory problems.

To prevent spreading the flu:
~Wash your hands.
~Don’t touch your face, nose, mouth or eyes.
~Stay home if you’re sick.
~Wipe down surfaces including countertops and door knobs.

Throughout the year, Lexington Medical Center asks that people who are not feeling well do not visit the hospital. If a patient comes to our Emergency department, Urgent Care facilities or physician practices with flu-like symptoms, we ask them to wear a mask. We also have hand sanitizer throughout our offices.