Flu Shot Myths

As we approach another flu season it is important to consider possible beliefs regarding flu vaccination that our patients may have but won’t state as the reason for their refusal to be vaccinated. The CDC estimated approximately 80,000 deaths were associated with influenza infection during the 2017-2018 flu-season, which is the highest mortality rate in recent history.

“I got the flu shot, and it gave me the flu.”
To address this common misconception patients should be informed about the Inactivated Influenza vaccine not containing live virus. They should also be told that vaccination does not confer full immunity for nearly 2 weeks, and they may have contracted the flu during this time. This highlights the importance of being vaccinated before peak flu activity.

“I got the flu shot, and I still got the flu.”
The CDC reports that the 2017-2018 vaccine effectiveness was estimated to be 40%, which is to say that patients who were vaccinated were 40% less likely to require medical attention for flu illness. Beyond this, evidence suggests that vaccinated patients requiring hospitalization for flu were 37% less likely to require ICU admission. Of all child flu-related deaths during the 2017-2018 season, 80% were in unvaccinated children.

“I’m allergic to eggs, and I can’t get the flu shot.”
If a patient can consume cake that contains eggs and the “allergic reaction” does not involve anaphylactoid symptoms, they are able to receive the standard Inactivated Influenza Vaccine. In patients with anaphylactoid reactions to eggs the Recombinant Influenza Vaccine (Flublok) contains no egg protein.

Products the pharmacy is currently stocking include: Flulaval (+/-preservative) (IIV4) for patients 6 months of age and older and is the same dose for all age groups; Flumist (LAIV4) (nasal) for non-pregnant patients ages 2-49 years; Flublok (egg-free) (RIV4) for patients 18 years and older with egg allergy; and Fluzone high-dose for our patients 65 years and older.

Given all the facts and the wide range of products available to suit our patients, we are prepared to meet your healthcare needs this influenza season.

1. What You Should Know for the 2017-2018 Influenza Season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm. Published 2018. Accessed November 2, 2018.
2. Arriola C, Garg S, Anderson EJ, et al. Influenza Vaccination Modifies Disease Severity Among Community-dwelling Adults Hospitalized With Influenza. Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(8):1289-1297.