Five myths about flu shots

National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 2 – 8.

By Pedro Zavala, MD
Resident, Baylor College of Medicine
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine
Medical Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Medical Director, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog

Winter is here and with it comes the beginning of flu season.  Every fall people across the U.S. hear the same thing, “It’s flu season; get your vaccine,” and despite health care providers recommendations, every year there are people who opt out.  My intent is to bust the most common myths about the flu vaccine so more people know the truth based on evidence-based research. Here we go!

Myth #1:  The flu vaccine gives you the flu.
This is probably the biggest of them all. The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. Because the flu vaccine is made of a killed or inactive flu virus, it cannot cause infection. If you get sick after the flu vaccine, it is either your body’s immune response to the vaccine or symptoms of another virus (that you probably picked up when you went to the doctor!).

Myth #2:  I’m healthy, so I do not need the flu vaccine every year.
The CDC currently recommends everyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccine every year. Even healthy people should get it.  Because your immunity decreases over the 12 months since your last flu vaccine, yearly vaccination gives you the best protection. The flu virus mutates every year so yearly flu vaccine protects you against the strains that are more likely to cause infection this season.

Continue reading “Five myths about flu shots”

Lather, rinse, repeat … and repeat … and (you get it)

Ruchi Kaushik, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine
Medical Director, ComP-CaN (Comprehensive Peds for Complex Needs)
Medical Director, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Blog

December 3-9 is National Handwashing Awareness Week. You have heard health care professionals talk about hand washing repeatedly. Well, if they haven’t convinced you and your family/friends to lather up this holiday season, I bet these gruesome facts will!

  • Approximately four out of five contagious diseases are passed by touching someone (and you just hugged your sister).
  • Only one out of five people wash their hands before preparing food (and your mom made the turkey this year).
  • Roughly one out of six cell phones have fecal (poop) matter on them (maybe because you just let your toddler nephew borrow yours?).
  • Almost two out of five people don’t wash their hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their noses (and you just shook your boss’s hand).
  • About seven percent of women and 15 percent of men do not wash their hands at all after using the bathroom. (EWWW! OK, that’s just gross.  And I really hope you don’t know anyone who does this.)

Continue reading “Lather, rinse, repeat … and repeat … and (you get it)”