5 popular myths about the flu shot

the flu shot Friday, October 05, 2018

Influenza (AKA the flu) isn't a typical cold that lasts only a few days. It's a serious virus that sometimes becomes life-threatening without the right care. Fortunately it can be prevented—or at least largely weakened—by getting an annual flu shot.

On many Premera plans your preventive flu shot will be covered fully in-network and out-of-network. If you have questions about how your plan covers the flu shot, please call the number on the back of your Premera card to ask about your coverage.

Myths about the flu shot

  1. A flu shot can give you the flu. 
    A flu shot is made two ways: it has an “inactivate” influenza virus or it includes only a portion of the virus, not enough to cause the illness. Your shot site may get sore or swollen and make you uncomfortable. If you get a headache, low-grade fever, or muscle aches, these are side effects, not the flu.
  2. I got a flu shot before and I still got sick. It must not work.
    There are dozens of viruses circulating during flu season. Other viruses can mimic influenza (flu) symptoms. Just because you get sick, it doesn’t mean that you had the flu virus or that the flu shot wasn’t helpful. You might have been exposed to the virus shortly before or after you got your shot. It takes two weeks after your shot for your body to protect you against the flu.
  3. If you get a flu shot too early, it won’t work when the worst of the flu season hits. 
    Flu viruses change as the flu season progresses. The benefits of getting the shot outweigh skipping the vaccine The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that flu vaccines prevented 5.3 million illnesses and 85,000 flu hospitalizations (that’s more than the number of hospital beds in California and Oregon) during the 2016-2018 flu season. In 2018, 710,000 people were hospitalized and about 56,000 died from complications from the flu.
  4. I have to talk to my doctor first. 
    Not unless you’ve had any life-threatening allergic reaction after a flu vaccine, are allergic to parts of the vaccine (usually eggs), or have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Most people can get a flu shot from a pharmacist, their healthcare provider, or at a community health clinic.
  5. I don’t get the flu. 
    People think they get the flu vaccine only to prevent themselves from getting the flu. When in reality, you should get the flu vaccine to protect our communities. While you may be healthy and strong, your children/parents/neighbor/co-worker may not able to fend off complications from getting the flu. The vaccine can decrease the likelihood that those we care about will be negatively impacted by the flu season.

Where to get your flu shot

You have 2 easy options:

  1. Your primary care doctor's office: Schedule an appointment for the flu shot. Haven't had your annual checkup yet? You can take care of both in the same visit!
  2. Your local pharmacy: Many Premera customers can go to any pharmacy that offers on-site flu shots. In most cases, just show your Premera card and you'll have no upfront fees to pay. You can find in-network pharmacies using our Find Care tool. Some “grandfathered” plans in Alaska do not cover this benefit at pharmacies. If you're unsure if your plan falls into this category, please call the number on the back of your Premera card to ask.

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