There are so many myths about the flu and the flu shot all over the internet, so in preparation for the Mass Flu Shot Clinic at the Richland County Health Department on Oct. 3, we’ve busted a few myths wide open.

During the 2018-2019 influenza season, Richland County saw 105 confirmed cases of influenza, with infection ranging from age 5 months to 87 years old. Of those, only 22 percent had received a flu shot.

Many people claim they avoid the flu shot because it makes them sick. However, flu shot vaccine does not contain any live virus, so it actually can’t make you sick with the flu. The vaccine contains inactivated virus, which means that once it’s in your body, your immune system can learn to respond to components of the virus, so that if you do come across the real flu virus, your body will be prepared.

Because vaccines are designed to evoke an immune response, it is common to have injection site soreness or a slight fever, but these symptoms shouldn’t last long. The Vaccine Information Sheet, offered either at the beginning or the end of your vaccination clinic visit, explains potential risks and reactions.

Some others say they don’t bother with the flu shot because it’s not effective. Though the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective in avoiding the flu, it will help to avoid hospitalization should you contract influenza. Of the 105 cases of the flu last season in Richland County, nine people were hospitalized and one died from influenza. Getting the annual flu shot can help you minimize the risk of hospitalization and death.

If you’re considering skipping the flu shot this year because you exercise and eat healthy, reconsider your decision. The flu virus doesn’t discriminate, and even healthy people can become infected. The flu virus can be spread when a sick person sneezes, coughs or talks, or spread by surfaces shared by both sick and health people, like doorknobs in public, bathroom faucet handles, and shopping carts. You may lose income due to days off from work, or may face more serious consequences of the flu, such as hospitalization and death.

There are many reasons to get your flu shot this flu season. If you have questions or need help with the decision to get you and your family vaccinated again the flu, contact the Health Department at 406-433-2207.

Flu shots are available for those 6 months and older at the Richland County Health Department during normal clinic hours, and at the Mass Flu Shot Clinic on Thursday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m.

Private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid will be billed for those who bring their insurance cards. No appointment is needed for the Mass Flu Shot Clinic on Oct. 3. Clinic paperwork is available on the day of the clinic, or can be downloaded at richland.org/rchd or on Facebook at facebook.com/RichlandCountyHealthDepartment.

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