Flu Shots: Myths and Reality

Story by Ouita Davis Gatton, staff pharmacist for Kroger in Apex, NC

Apex, NC – “Why should I get the flu shot?” people ask. “I never get sick.” To which I respond, “Do people around you have the flu?” They say yes, and I tell them, “You could unknowingly be transmitting the virus to them. If you are vaccinated that is highly unlikely.”

The flu shot is one of the easiest, safest and most affordable vaccines to obtain. Yet many people refuse to take it, and then the cost can be deadly. More than 36,000 people every year die from the effects of the flu, and most cases of transmission could have been prevented. That is why I encourage everyone reading this to get a shot this year.

It’s Easy

Flu shots are now offered at your doctor’s office and at most major pharmacies.  At pharmacy counters that offer the shot, speak to a pharmacist about the vaccination (usually no appointment is required). He or she will ask if you are feeling well and if you are allergic to eggs or a few other preservatives contained in the flu.

If you pass both questions, you will receive vaccine information and a consent form to review and fill out. If there are no problematic symptoms or conditions revealed from this information, the pharmacist will prepare to administer the vaccine.

This Year’s Vaccine

The 2012 seasonal flu vaccine has been developed to protect against three flu strains: H1N1 and two new strains, H3N2 and a B strain. The Fluzone® High-Dose flu shot is available for those age 65 and older, as its higher dose of antigen is intended to give senior adults a better immune response after vaccination.

The vaccine is provided via an intramuscular shot. The few minor complications that may occur are redness and a slight irritation around the injection area. If you do have a major reaction, which is highly unlikely, pharmacists are trained to assist and help you.

Insurance Coverage

Medicare B and most insurance plans cover the cost of one vaccination per year. If you do not have insurance, the amount is only $25.

Effective in 2 Weeks

The shot takes two weeks to take effect. From that point onward, you have increased your arsenal of protection against transmitting the flu this season as well as prevention from getting the disease – a real advantage to your friends and family.

Three Myths About The Flu Shot

  1. You can get sick from the shot itself. You cannot, no matter what anyone tells you.
  2. You only need to get one shot in your lifetime. The strains of flu vary every year, hence the need for a new vaccination annually.
  3. Only older adults need the shot. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for all people age 6 months and older. Under current North Carolina law, pharmacists are allowed to administer shots for individuals ages 14 and up, while other health care providers can vaccinate younger children.

Six Tips To Avoid The Flu

  1. Wash your hands continuously. If they become chapped from the constant soap and water, use lotions or creams to keep your hands supple.
  2. Get plenty of sleep, eat well and exercise. These activities will boost your immune system.
  3. Avoid overusing vaporizers and dehumidifiers and keep them clean. Running these devices without oversight can encourage mold and mildew growth.
  4. Be careful sharing personal items. Use antibacterial wipes on things like phones frequently to keep them sanitary.
  5. If you think you have the flu, stay home. Do not expose your co-workers to the virus.
  6. Dress for the weather appropriate. If it is cold outside, wearing a T-shirt and/or shorts is a bad idea.

Why Wait?

Many pharmacies, and even some supermarkets (including Kroger), can provide on-site flu clinics for workplaces and businesses for 25 or more people.

The good news is that this year there is no shortage of the vaccine. And remember, you might be saving the lives of loved ones as well as yourself.


Ouita Davis Gatton has worked for Kroger since 1997 and has received certifications in medication therapy management and pharmacy-based immunization delivery from the American Pharmacists Association.

Photo courtesy of the National Guard. Pictured above, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, the senior enlisted leader of the National Guard Bureau, receives her 2011 influenza vaccination from Army Maj. Monica Law, a nurse practitioner, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Sept. 12, 2011.

CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Booth Amphitheatre, the Triangle’s home for world-class outdoor music and entertainment.