How can my family and I stay healthy during flu season?
There are a few things that everyone can do to avoid getting sick:
- Wash your hands with soap and water as often as you can. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are helpful when you’re on the move.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes because germs spread that way.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arms, sleeves, or tissue.
- Avoid close contact with people who are already sick.
- Get your flu vaccine.
Can the vaccine give me the flu?
It isn’t possible to catch the flu from either the flu shot or the nasal spray. The flu shot contains inactive (dead) virus, while the flu nasal spray contains live attenuated virus that is weakened so it cannot make you sick.
What about mercury? Are vaccines with the preservative thimerosal safe?
Thimerosal is a common preservative used in vaccines, and it contains small amounts of mercury.
Mercury is potentially harmful in large quantities. It is a naturally occurring element found in the air, soil and water. As a result, it is often found in small amounts in many food items such as infant formula and breast milk. It is difficult or impossible to reduce children’s exposure to those sources.
Because of this, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that efforts be made to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in vaccines – not because there was any indication that thimerosal in vaccines caused health problems, but because vaccines were one of the few sources of mercury exposure to children that could be reduced. We recommend women and young children choose a thimerosal-free vaccine when it is available.
There is no evidence that this preservative is harmful to a pregnant woman or a fetus, or that it causes autism.
I got the flu vaccine. What other vaccines do I need?
Because we have seen an increased number of whooping cough cases (also called pertussis), we recommend children and adults make sure they are up to date on their pertussis vaccination.
To see if you are due for the flu vaccine or other immunizations or screenings, sign on to Preventive Health Reminders.