Dear Healthy Men: I’ve already had my COVID shot and two boosters, but my wife is bugging me to get a flu vaccine. I say that the COVID shots will protect me. She disagrees. Who’s right?
A: In two words, she is. Many people, particularly guys, are trying to decide whether to get a flu shot this year and, as your question highlights, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about the flu itself and vaccines. To clear them up, we’ve put together a list of myths and facts. Below are a few of the reason we suggest that you have a discussion with your health care provider about vaccines and the best ways to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy this flu season and beyond. You’ll find the full list and other resources at www.HealthyMen.org/ManUpToFlu
Myth: I’m Fully COVID Vaccinated So I Don’t Need a Flu Vaccine
Fact: After more than two years of COVID, we’re all a little vaccine weary. But the truth is that while COVID and influenza (flu) are both respiratory (lung) illnesses, they’re caused by completely different viruses. As a result, the COVID shots (including boosters) you’ve had won’t protect you against the flu—and the seasonal flu vaccine your wife is suggesting won’t protect you against COVID. For most people, flu shots have been shown to reduce the risk of contracting the flu. As mentioned above, talk over the plusses and minuses with your healthcare provider.
Myth: I’m too Healthy to Get Sick
Fact: As guys, many of us have grown up thinking of ourselves as invincible, but I’m sorry to report, that’s simply not true. How many times have you read or heard about elite athletes or others in top physical condition who get laid out (or die) from a physical, emotional, or infectious condition? As we get older and wiser, our ability to heal and to fight infections declines. We certainly can and should make lifestyle changes that minimize health risks, but sometimes we too will be sidelined. Healthy Men believes that being vaccinated against the flu virus is a quick and simple way to protect yourself and your family from this threat.
Myth: The Flu Isn’t Really a Big Deal
Fact: Each year between 140,000 and 170,000 Americans are hospitalized for flu-related conditions and 12,000-52,000 die. Risks of hospitalization and death are particularly high for the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and the very young. In addition, the flu can cause big problems in unexpected parts of your body. For example, if you have a heart condition, flu puts you at six times the risk of having a heart attack within just seven days of getting the flu.
Myth: Flu Season Has Already Started, So It’s too Late to Get Vaccinated
Fact: Au contraire! There’s no such thing as “too late to get vaccinated.” That said, it’s best get your shot early, particularly this year, as flu infections are already on the rise.
Myth: When You Get the Flu-22 Shot, Your Loved ones Will Stop Nagging You
Fact: This one’s true! Because so much of health advertising and messaging is aimed at women, they’re often more aware than guys of the need to vaccinate. And they’re frequently the ones in guys’ lives who, in their own special way, urge us to take better care of ourselves, So, to the ladies and other loved ones out there, continue urging the guys in your life to get a seasonal flu shot. For the guys out there, when you do get that shot, you’ll have a bit more peace. Again, for the complete list of Reasons to Man Up to Flu-22, visit www.HealthyMen.org/ManUpToFlu
Photo by CDC on Unsplash