Is the flu vaccine for you?

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)-- As this week is National Influenza Vaccination Week ... health departments are strongly encouraging people to get their flu vaccines if they haven't already.

"Getting your flu vaccine is the best protection against getting the flu. Hand washing is also a big help, not only from catching the flu but also the cold virus," said Mary Wade Triplett, the Public Information Officer for the Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD).

Some people, however, say they don't get vaccinated because it makes them sick.

"I'm not comfortable with having the virus injected into my body even though they tell you it's dead. The one year that I did get them, I was very very sick and ended up with pneumonia," said Jo Ellen Eberly of Morgantown.

This is a common misconception that health departments say people have, but they stress that it really isn't the case.

"The flu vaccine is inactivated and cannot make you sick. Your immune system starts to react and people might feel tired, but it will not give you the flu," said Triplett.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was estimated that the flu caused 49 million flu illnesses, 960,000 flu hospitalizations and 79,000 deaths the last flu season.

"I think it's a good idea to get them because it seems in the past couple of years the flu has become deadly," said Amy Dale of Morgantown.

The health department says it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to become effective and if you get it now it'll be just in time for a holiday get together.

"If you get it now you can be fully immunized before people are gathered for the holidays to help protect your friends and family or to protect yourself if somebody shows up sick," said Triplett.

Health officials say the vaccine may not be a match for this season's virus, but it will protect you against three or four of the strains predicted to be most active.

Although, some say they choose to let their body fight it off.

"I'm definitely against the flu vaccine and any other type of medicine that we introduce to our bodies because our bodies can pretty much take care of themselves," said Vi Tran of Morgantown.

Officials say flu season can last through April and sometimes even go into May.

According to the health department, flu vaccines are recommended for anyone who's 6 months old and up.