Influenza is, in the minds of many Poles, a light disease that is no different from a common cold. Nothing could be more wrong. Its course can be very severe and complications are serious. The World Health Organization estimates that up to half a million patients die of flu every year.
Flu is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. Nevertheless, it is often mistaken for a cold, which gives us a false sense of security. And while we can get vaccinated against the flu, we rarely do it. In general, the vaccination coverage remains at the level of approx. 4%. in the entire population, in children at the level of 1%, and in people over 65 - 14%. The myths surrounding influenza vaccination circulate in society to some extent. They are extremely harmful. So let's deal with a few of the most popular.
MYTH: Flu vaccination can cause this disease
There is probably no person who would not hear that someone got vaccinated against the flu and fell ill with it. In fact, however, it is unlikely. It must be remembered that the vaccine protects only against the flu virus, which can not only significantly weaken the body, but also cause many dangerous complications. However, it does not protect against parainfluenza viruses or pathogens responsible for the appearance of cold symptoms. These, although they may force us to rest in bed for a few days, are not as dangerous and dangerous as the flu virus.
There are two types of vaccines available: inactivated, injected and live, intranasal (attenuated - containing weakened viruses). Therefore, administration of either vaccine cannot cause disease. Vaccination does not guarantee that we will not get sick, but - most importantly - it protects us and our children against more serious complications, e.g. pneumonia, meningitis, myocarditis, sepsis or exacerbation of a chronic disease.
TRUE: The flu virus mutates and vaccination has to be repeated every year
The flu virus has the trait that it mutates rapidly. The pathogen that caused the disease last year may have a completely different structure. Therefore, it is necessary to change the composition of the vaccine according to the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization. Due to the antigenic variability of the influenza virus, we do not acquire full immunity after the disease. This means you can get the flu several times.
MYTH: During the coronavirus pandemic, it's better not to get vaccinated
As the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, many people fear vaccination. Doctors and scientists reassure: vaccination is safe and absolutely advisable. There are several reasons. Firstly, the vaccination coverage level is very low, which means that there is no question of herd immunity. And only in this way could we protect the weakest, e.g. seniors, who are particularly at risk of both post-flu complications and the severe course of COVID-19. Second, the healthcare system is overburdened in a pandemic. We already have a problem with getting to the GP. In the fall, when the infection season begins, it will be even worse.
Flu pandemics around the world
MYTH: The flu vaccine should be given in the summer. In the infection season, it doesn't make sense anymore
The highest number of cases of flu is recorded from January to March. Many patients are also diagnosed in the fall. So it doesn't matter when we get the vaccine. It provides protection, usually two weeks after administration.
MYTH: It's better to get the flu than to get vaccinated
Flu cannot be cured with vitamin C. Let us emphasize once again - it is not a common cold, but a serious disease that takes its toll every year. We don't know how our body will react to the virus. We can go through the disease asymptomatically, but we will still infect others, e.g. our parents and grandparents, who may develop a full-blown disease and complications that are dangerous to health.