Don’t fall for flu myths: get your flu shot early


Woman with flu bunlded in blankets, sipping a hot beverage

We tend to think of the flu as a winter illness, but October is the start of flu season in the United States, continuing on through May and generally peaking in January or February. It’s not too early to think about getting your flu shot now, and if you need a good reason, the Chicago Tribune reports on some news about the toll of last year’s flu season:

“More than 80,000 people died from the flu last season in the United States, according to early estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it’s far lower than the almost 700,000 people who died in the U.S. during the so-called Spanish flu pandemic that hit worldwide 100 years ago, last season was a “record-breaking” death toll, the highest since at least the late 1970s, according to the CDC.

The flu deaths last season were nearly 10,000 higher than the estimated number who died from drug overdoses and almost double the number of those estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 900,000 plus were hospitalized, the public health agency said. In Illinois, more than 2,300 were admitted to intensive care units for flu-related illness.”

Apparently, that isn’t evidence enough to convince people to get vaccinated – less than half of the population gets a shot each year. If you are a flu shot skeptic, the Harvard Medical School shoots down 10 common flu myths – check out the article to get the facts.

  • Myth: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
  • Myth: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated.
  • Myth: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to protect yourself from the flu.
  • Myth: The flu is just a bad cold.
  • Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
  • Myth: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
  • Myth: You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat, with wet hair or by sitting near a drafty window.
  • Myth: Feed a cold, starve a fever.
  • Myth: Chicken soup will speed your recovery from the flu.
  • Myth: If you have a high fever with the flu that lasts more than a day or two, antibiotics may be necessary.

Learn about who is most vulnerable to the flu from the CDC: People at High Risk of Developing Serious Flu–Related Complications. Get more facts about prevention, symptoms, treatments and more from flu.gov.

Today, there’s no excuse – it’s pretty easy to get a flu shot on the fly, you don’t even need to make a doctor’s appointment. You can get a flu shot at most major pharmacies and drug stores. If you’re unsure where to get a shot, check the vaccine finder. Here are some tips for getting free or cheap flu shots.

Your seasonal flu prevention reminder!


fight the flu graphic

Flu season runs from October through May, generally peaking from December through March. Flu vaccines can take a few weeks to kick in so it’s good to get your shot early. Find out the place closest to you at the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

Health experts say that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, but it’s particularly important for people at high risk for developing potentially serious complications. These include:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People who have medical conditions

There are a lot of myths about the flu and vaccines – for example, many people think you can get the flu from a vaccine or that healthy people don’t need a vaccine. Harvard Medical School separates fact from fiction in 10 Flu Myths. Another common myth is that the flu is just a very bad cold – wrong! This Healthcare Triage video explains the difference.

It’s time for that flu shot!


flu shotsInfluenza, the flu, a bug, the creeping crud – whatever you choose to call it, ’tis the season. Flu season generally starts picking up in October and peaks from December through March. Medical experts say that ideally, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot by early November. Flu vaccines are updated annually to match the diseases that are currently circulating. This year, only injectable flu shots are recommended.

While it is important for everyone to get a flu shot, there are certain populations at high risk for developing potentially serious complications. These include:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People who have medical conditions

Interestingly, the more people who get flu shots, the better off we all are through a principle called herd immunity – when a critical mass of people are innoculated, a measure of protection is strengthened. The wikipedia entry explains how this works for the flu:

“Influenza (flu) is more severe in the elderly than in younger age age groups, but influenza vaccines lack effectiveness in this demographic due to a waning of the immune system with age. The prioritization of school-age children for seasonal flu immunization, which is more effective than vaccinating the elderly, however, has shown to create a certain degree of herd immunity for the elderly.”

It’s easier than ever to get a shot these days – they are widely available – here’s a flu vaccine finder – just enter your zip code to find locations near you.

Stay healthy — get that flu shot!


We’re right in the thick of flu season again – it recurs annually from October through May and generally peaks in February. If you get the flu, it usually lasts for one to two weeks — but it can be significantly more serious for some groups: seniors (65+), children (especially those younger than 2), and people with chronic health conditions. Your best defense is prevention via a flu vaccine. The CDC suggests that everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine.

Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu vaccine location near you.

Here are links for more information:

Tips & tools for avoiding or dealing with the flu


With 700 cases of the flu in Boston and counting, the city has declared a flu emergency. But you aren’t off the hook if you don’t live in Boston – there have been 18 deaths in the state as of this writing, and the Centers for Disease Control reports a high level of high levels of influenza-like-illness throughout most of the country.
Mass.Gov has an excellent site on Influenza that offers multi-lingual fact sheets and information on protecting, preparing and caring for yourself and others. The site also has special resources for these groups:

For more resources, see the CDC’s Seasonal Influenza site and flu.gov

Tips for Businesses
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers Business Planning resources at flu.gov.
Zurich, one of the Renaissance business partners, has prepared an excellent guide for business: Influenza Outbreak: What your business should be doing