Doctor stresses importance of flu shots

Doctors dispel myths regarding flu shots and discuss the various types of vaccines they give. (Source: WAFF file)
Doctors dispel myths regarding flu shots and discuss the various types of vaccines they give. (Source: WAFF file)

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Dr. Scott Harris is an infectious disease specialist who says people should not be desensitized by the flu, and encourages everyone to get a flu shot this year.

"It's actually a tremendous health problem," Dr. Harris said. "There are tens of thousands of people, some say up to 30,000 people, who die in this country alone from influenza."

He said if you won't do it for yourself, do it to keep from spreading it to others. There are now several different types of flu shots which you might want to discuss with your doctor.

The vaccine is made from a killed virus incubated in chicken eggs, which he says some people can not take.

"There are some people who have some issues with eggs, but if you can safely eat an egg and not be seriously ill, then it's safe for you to take the flu vaccine. It's not actually possible to catch the flu from the flu vaccine. It's not a live vaccine, and there's nothing to catch," the doctor added.

Because it takes about two weeks to become effective, he says it is possible to be exposed and catch the flu immediately after getting vaccinated.

"It's hard to convince those people that they didn't actually get it from the shot," Harris said.

Getting a flu shot is still a choice, so we asked some people whether or not they would get a flu shot and why.

Decatur resident Lou Holcombe knows where he stands. "I am going to get a flu shot. The reason being is that I don't want to get the flu."

Ethel Shariett, also from Decatur, has a personal reason. "I got one yesterday at Publix and I did it because we'll be traveling from now until Christmas."

Right now, Denise Hill is on the fence. "You know, sometimes my mom will call me and say did you get your flu shot? And I'll go ahead and do it, cause you do what your mama tells you. But I still haven't decided whether to get one or not," she said.

Jerry Thomas said he is used to getting vaccinated for everything. "When I was a kid I got a small pox vaccination, I got a tetanus shot. I remember back in the old days you got typhoid shots down at the courthouse. People are ridiculous not to get the vaccine," he said.

Most insurance companies do cover the vaccine.

Harris says there are 4 different types of vaccines, now.

"(There is) a shot that covers the three most common strains of flu in any given season," Dr. Harris explained. "That's the one they give to most people. There's a new flu vaccine that's been out for a few years that's sort of a double dose, that's indicated for older people that's over 65.

"There is actually a more expensive flu shot that covers four strains of virus," he continued, "that's just been out for a couple of years that some people are using but it does cost a bit more."

For those who don't like needles, the doctor said there is still the inhaled flu vaccine. He said the nasal vaccine is often used on children, who are usually frightened by the presence of needles.

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