Don’t let flu vaccine myths deter you from getting your shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot each year. Unfortunately, many people don’t because they believe one or more of the following myths:

Myth: The flu isn’t so bad.

Fact: The flu can lead to serious illness, including pneumonia, even for otherwise healthy people. Plus, a normal bout of the flu can keep a person out of work or school for several days.

Myth: The flu vaccine will make you sick.

Fact: The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, although you may experience side effects such as a sore arm, low fever or achiness. Side effects are generally mild and short-lived.

Myth: Healthy people don’t need a vaccine.

Fact: Anyone can become sick with the flu and experience complications, even people who are active and healthy. Plus, if you get the flu, you may endanger those around you who are at a higher risk for complications.

Myth: You can still get the flu after getting the vaccine.

Fact: This one is partially true for the following reasons:

  • You may have been exposed to a non-flu virus, such as the common cold.
  • You may have been exposed to the flu after you got vaccinated but before the vaccine took effect, which typically takes about two weeks after vaccination.
  • You may have been exposed to a flu virus that was different from the viruses included in the current year’s vaccine. The flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses expected to be most prevalent, but other flu viruses circulate as well.

Myth: It’s too late to get protection from a flu vaccine.

Fact: As long as it is still the flu season, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu seasons can begin early in fall and last until spring, so getting a vaccine can be beneficial into the spring months.

Myth: You only need to get vaccinated if family and friends get sick from the flu.

Fact: If you wait until people around you get sick, it is often too late to protect yourself, because it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in.

Myth: The discomfort of getting a shot isn’t worth it.

Fact: The minor pain of a flu shot is nothing compared to getting the flu. Plus, many people can receive the nasal-spray vaccine instead of getting a shot. Talk to your doctor about which is the best choice for you.

Myth: If you got the vaccine last year, you don’t need it this year.

Fact: Research suggests that your body’s immunity from the flu vaccine declines throughout the year, so there is often not enough immunity left to protect you from getting sick for multiple seasons. This is why the CDC recommends a flu vaccine each year.

Myth: The vaccine isn’t safe.

Fact: Flu vaccines have been used for more than 50 years and have a very good safety track record. They are made the same way each year, and their safety is closely monitored by the CDC and Food and Drug Administration.



Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Pay attention to regulations for employee breaks and travel

Federal law doesn’t require employers to provide breaks for rest or meals.  However it does regulate how breaks are provided and compensated.  State law also often provides additional employee protections regarding break time requirements.

Most federal regulations derive from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies to all employers in defined areas, regardless of how many employees the employer has. This is different than many federal laws that cover workplace standards.  The FLSA does not protect many salaried employees.

Breaks & meal periods:  When employers offer short breaks between 5 and 20 minutes, federal law considers these compensable work hours included in the sum of hours worked and considered when determining overtime. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to the employee that:

  • the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time,
  • any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules, and
  • any extension of the break will be punished.

Bona fide meal periods (typically lasting at least 30 minutes), serve a different purpose than coffee or snack breaks and are not compensable as work time.

Sleeping time and certain other activities:  An employee on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee on duty for 24 hours or more may agree to exclude bona fide, regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours from hours worked. This is provided that adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep. No reduction is permitted unless the employee sleeps a minimum of 5 hours.

Lectures, meetings and training programs:  Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time, but only if four criteria are met: it is outside normal hours, it is voluntary, not job related, and no other work is concurrently performed.

Home-to-Work Travel: An employee who travels from home before the regular workday and returns to his/her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home-to-work travel, which is not considered work time.

Home-to-work on a special one-day assignment in another city: An employee who regularly works at a fixed location is given a special one-day assignment in another city and returns home the same day. The time spent in traveling to, and returning from, the other city is considered work time. However, the the employer may deduct, or not count the time that the employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.

Travel that is all in a day’s work: Time spent by employees traveling as part of their principal activity, such as driving from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.

Problems arise when employers fail to recognize and count certain hours worked as compensable hours. For example, an employee who eats lunch at his/her desk and regularly answers the telephone and refers callers is working. This time must be counted and paid as compensable hours worked because the employee has not been completely relieved from duty.

These are some general guidelines.  If you have additional questions or need help for your individual business situation, please contact your BCN Services Partnership Manager.



Debbie Strahle, Partnership Manager