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A hand holding a medical needle and the influenza vaccine.

What's worse than catching COVID-19? Catching COVID- 19 and the flu at the same time. They're both diseases that attack your lungs and can work together to seriously hurt or kill people.

What is the flu and why should I get vaccinated?

The flu is a virus. Viruses are too small to see, and they cannot live outside of a human or animal body. Once enough flu viruses are in your body, they can make you sick with things like a runny nose, fever, and headache.

To fight off a virus, our body makes something called “antibodies,” which keep the virus from entering the cells in our body. Unfortunately, viruses are constantly changing, so the antibodies you have from last year’s flu, probably won’t work on this year’s flu. There are also many different types of flu, just like there are many different breeds of dogs.

Every year scientists make their best guess about which type of flu is most likely to come to your community. They create a vaccine with a dead flu virus. This tricks your body into protecting itself. Once the latest live flu virus arrives, your body already knows how to fight it off.

As you can see, because each flu season is different, you'll want to get your flu shot yearly, usually in the fall.

Can everyone get a vaccine?
Not necessarily. Some people have a weak immune system or may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. People who cannot get a flu shot rely on the rest of us to get the vaccine. If most people can’t catch the flu, it probably won’t spread in your community. This is sometimes called "herd immunity."

Will I get the flu if I get a flu shot?
It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for your body to be ready to fight the flu. With a vaccine, you may stop the flu entirely, or you may have flu symptoms like a cough but they are much milder.

Do vaccines cause autism?
Vaccines do not cause autism or any other intellectual or physical disability. The surgeon who originally misled the world to believe that vaccines cause autism has lost his medical license for practicing bad science and committing fraud. He never had any proof that autism and vaccines are related.

Remember to fact-check! Don't trust everything you read about medicine, wellness, and health. Always try to get your facts from respected sources. You are your own best guide to protecting your health and the health of others.

For more information read about flu prevention and stopping the spread from VT's Department of Health.

Side note(s):

  • Most pharmacies in Vermont already have this year's flu vaccine and are giving them to people for free. You don't need an appointment and the process is really quick.
  • Photo credit to CDC on Unsplash.