With the month of December comes peak flu season, yet a significant portion of Americans believe they do not need a flu vaccine.
Among those surveyed who planned to abstain from the annual vaccination, 48 percent said they believed that a flu shot or spray is unnecessary for them. Sixteen percent said they were worried about side effects or risks of the vaccine, and 14 percent said they believed the flu vaccine would infect them with the virus.
In Watertown, Jefferson County Public Health Planner Faith E. Lustik said she commonly hears these concerns around flu season, mostly from locals between the ages of 18 and 45.
"Usually I hear from people that they have never gotten the flu," she said. "People don't think they are going to get sick."
While symptoms may be minimal for some healthy young adults, the flu becomes more dangerous if it is spread to young children or the elderly, Ms. Lustik said.
"There is a community responsibility to get vaccinated so you don't spread it to others," she said.
Even for people who have less serious symptoms, she said, getting the vaccine is the best option.
"Maybe it's not going to be deadly, but you're going to miss a week of work," she said. "You just have a much easier life if you don't get the flu."
As for those who are worried about contracting the flu from the vaccine, Ms. Lustik said this is not possible.
"There's no possible way you can get sick from it," she said. "It is possible that you can still get the flu after the shot, but you're not getting it from the vaccine."
With National Influenza Vaccination Week starting Sunday, Ms. Lustik said the county Public Health Department will remind locals to get their flu shots, particularly college students who may be returning home for winter vacation.
"The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says to get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available, but it's really never too late," Ms. Lustik said. "The peak flu season is December through February."
Ms. Lustik said the cost of a flu shot is covered by many insurance providers, and shots are available at the public health office, 531 Meade St., as well as at many pharmacies and clinics throughout the community.
For more information, visit http://wdt.me/pub-health or call the Public Health Department at 786-3770.
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