If you’ve been watching the evening news, you already know that the flu made its way across the country a little earlier than usual this year. It started in the western states and worked its way to Connecticut in late September. We thought it might help seniors and their family caregivers, who are at greater risk for catching the bug, if we shared some of the myths and facts about flu shots.

Flu Shot Mythbusters

Myth #1: If I get the flu vaccine in early October it won’t protect for the whole flu season. I could catch the flu before the end of winter.

FACT: The flu shot is effective for one full year from the time you receive it. Making plans to be vaccinated early each year can help protect you in years like this one when the flu makes the rounds early.

Myth #2: The flu shot will make me get the flu.

FACT: This is probably the most popular myth about the vaccine. It is one reason seniors often refuse to be vaccinated. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the viruses in the flu shot are inactivated. That means they cannot cause someone who gets a flu shot to become sick.

Myth #3: You really don’t need the vaccine every year.

FACT: Unlike mumps or measles vaccines that you only need once, the flu shot is an annual vaccine. It changes every year to target strains of the viruses that are predicted to be part of the current year’s flu season.

Myth #4: If you don’t have any flu symptoms, you can’t spread the virus.

FACT: This persistent myth can be dangerous for older adults. If their loved ones and caregivers aren’t vaccinated, they may unknowingly spread the virus around. Experts say that between 20% and 30% of people who carry the influenza virus don’t have any noticeable flu-like symptoms.

Myth #5: Medicare requires me to get my flu shot at the doctor’s office.

FACT: Medicare covers one flu shot per year. Health care providers who accept Medicare can generally provide the vaccine at no cost to Medicare recipients.

To learn more about the different types of vaccines, including the nasal spray vaccine, visit the Seasonal Flu Shot resource page at Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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