Flu Fact or Fiction?

It’s that time of year again - the air is crisp, the leaves are beginning to change, and you are being bombarded with messages to get your flu shot. With so much information, how can you tell fact from fiction? The City of Newton Health & Human Services (HHS) Department put together this guide to help! For questions and more information, call us at (617) 796-1420 or visit our website at www.newtonma.gov/flu.


FACT or FICTION: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.


The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu because the viruses in the flu vaccine are dead, which means they can’t make you sick. Less than 1% of people who get the flu vaccine experience side effects such as a low-grade fever or muscle aches, which can be mistaken for the flu. The flu vaccine isn’t fully effective until 1-2 weeks after getting the shot, and even then it isn’t 100% effective. Unfortunately, you may get the flu even if you get the vaccine, but this is from exposure to a sick person, not the vaccine itself.


FACT or FICTION: Getting the flu isn’t a big deal.


Flu is the most common cause of death from a vaccine-preventable disease in the US. There are thousands to tens of thousands of flu-related deaths every year in the US. Flu is responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year. Children are the most likely to get sick, but complications, hospitalizations, and deaths are highest among adults age 65 and older, children younger than 5, and people of any age who have medical conditions that place them at increased risk.


FACT or FICTION: Seniors should only get the new high-dose flu vaccine


There are several flu vaccine products appropriate for use in older adults, including some types developed to boost immunity to the flu virus in adults 65 and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not issued a preferential recommendation for one flu vaccine over another for seniors. Vaccination should not be delayed if a specific product is not available. Seniors should consult with their own health care provider if they have questions or want a recommendation on which flu vaccine may be best for them. The HHS Department provides quadrivalent (4-strain), regular dose flu vaccine at all its public clinics (not the high-dose).


FACT or FICTION: Vaccines are the best tool we have to prevent flu.

Answer: FACT

A flu vaccine is the first and most essential step in protecting against the flu. However, preventive measures like covering your cough (not with your hands!) and washing your hands effectively are the important daily steps that can help stop the spread of the flu and other germs.


Everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year unless your health care provider has told you that there are medical reasons you can’t get the vaccine. Newton residents have many opportunities to get a flu vaccine, including through your primary health care provider, local pharmacies, and the City of Newton school and community flu clinics. Information about free City of Newton clinics is available at www.newtonma.gov/flu and on the flu vaccine hotline at (617) 796-1426.


Free City of Newton Flu Vaccine Clinic Dates

All clinics are for Newton residents only. Insurance information requested but not required.

Adults 18+ only: Wed., Oct 4, 2:00-3:30pm, Newton Senior Center, 345 Walnut St

Adults and Children 6 months+: Monday, Nov. 20, 5 to 7 p.m., Newton City Hall, War Memorial Auditorium, 1000 Commonwealth Ave.

School-aged children: Sept 26-Nov 15 during the school day at each school (contact school nurse)

Details and download the forms in advance at www.newtonma.gov/flu

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