Oct. 9, 2019

Five vaccine myths we are debunking this flu season

Avoiding the flu is easier than you think — get your free flu shot at UCalgary clinics from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1
Flu season
Avoiding the flu is easier than you think — get your free flu shot at UCalgary clinics from Oct. 21 Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Do you know someone who proudly declares their reasons for not getting the flu shot every year? UCalgary occupational health nurse Brendan Webster says you shouldn’t take their opinions at face value because the science is in — flu shots save time, money and lives.

“The most effective method to preventing yourself and others from contracting this year’s flu strain is to get vaccinated,” Webster says. “Flu shots are free, easy and well worth it.”

To keep yourself and other’s healthy this flu season, students, faculty and staff at UCalgary are strongly encouraged to drop in for a free flu shot at one of the six UCalgary campuses from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1.

Last year, over 5,300 students, faculty and staff members on campus got their vaccine on campus — but if you’re still not convinced the flu shot is for you, we are busting five myths about the vaccine to change your mind.

Myth 1: Getting vaccinated is a major hassle

We’re making it easy to get your flu shot — just walk into a flu clinic at one of six UCalgary campuses Oct. 21 to Nov. 1:

  • Main campus, Oct. 21 to 24 (students, faculty or staff) — walk-in only
  • Downtown campus, Oct. 25 (students, faculty or staff) — walk in or make an appointment
  • Foothills campus, Oct. 28 (students, faculty or staff) and Oct. 29 (employees only)— walk in or make an appointment
  • SMART building, Oct. 30 (employees only) — walk in or make an appointment
  • Spyhill campus, Oct. 31 (students, faculty or staff) — walk-in only
  • Olympic Volunteer Centre, Nov. 1 (employees only) — walk in or make an appointment

View the complete schedule and appointment availability for all campuses — and don’t forget your provincial healthcare card!

“To keep our wait times short, we encourage clinic walk-ins at low-demand times like mid-morning and mid-afternoon,” Webster says. “This keeps the flow of traffic quick and manageable.”

To make the lineups even more efficient, employees are encouraged to pre-fill their immunization registration, and bringing their barcode to the clinic.

Find more time-saving instructions at ucalgary.ca/fluniversity.

Myth 2: The flu shot gives me the flu

No, the flu shot cannot give you the flu. Flu viruses in the vaccine are dead, and a dead virus cannot infect you — it’s just not possible.

"After a flu shot, some people may feel a bit under the weather, have muscle aches or an achy arm at the injection site — but it is not possible to contract the flu from a flu shot,” Webster says.

Myth 3: I got the flu a week after I was vaccinated — flu shots obviously don’t work.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. However, it is possible to get sick if you were exposed to the flu virus before your flu shot, or the two weeks after your shot was administered.

It’s also possible to be infected by a virus strain that was not included in the vaccine for the season. But even then, Webster says the flu vaccine can provide partial protection that limits symptoms and their duration.

“The World Health Organization does a great job of predicting what influenza viruses will be most widespread during a given flu season,” Webster says. “Even partial protection can save lives.”

Myth 4: Why bother? I never get the vaccine and I never get the flu

Yes, the flu vaccine will prevent you from getting the flu — but it’s not just for you. Your vaccination also protects members of vulnerable populations like babies, seniors and the immunocompromised.

“There are cases where vulnerable people may not receive flu vaccination — but if the people around them are vaccinated, herd immunity protects them,” Webster says.

Your immune system may be strong enough to protect you from experiencing flu symptoms, but what about your grandparents, your nieces and nephews, your colleague with a weakened immune system, or your friend with a chronic illness? Get the flu shot for you and for them.

Myth 5: The flu isn’t that even that bad

According to the most recent flu season’s stats, 92 people died from the flu in Alberta — a 30-per-cent increase from the year previous — and this year it’s estimated approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada will be credited to influenza.

“Getting the flu is not a big deal for some of us, but it can be deadly for others,” Webster says. “We need to make an effort to get immunized for our own protection and the protection of others.”

Learn more about flu clinics on campus, and plan your flu shot today.

Thanks to the SU for donating use of the North Courtyard for UCalgary’s mass influenza vaccination clinic.