Vaccinations: Separating myth from reality, from the August 2013 Harvard Women's Health Watch

Vaccinations aren't just for children. Older adults need them, too, to ward off preventable infectious diseases, especially influenza and pneumonia. Yet many adults aren't following the recommended vaccination schedule. In 2011, only 62% of Americans aged 65 years and older were vaccinated against pneumonia, just over 50% got a needed tetanus vaccine, and a mere 15% were vaccinated against shingles. The August 2013 Harvard Women's Health Watch asked Dr. Elisa Choi, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Center and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, to address five myths and misconceptions that may be keeping adults from getting the vaccinations they need. Myth: I'll catch the flu from the influenza vaccine. Fact: The injectable flu vaccine is not a live vaccine, so it cannot, in any way, transmit the flu virus. Myth: The flu vaccine isn't effective in older adults. Fact: Each year, the flu vaccine formulation is based on predictions of which strains are most likely to circulate in the coming flu season. Other strains may enter the mix. But even if you catch a flu virus that wasn't in the vaccination, the vaccine isn't useless. It could make the infection less severe.
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