Misconceptions about the seasonal flu and the flu vaccine can be dangerous to your health.
Current vaccines are not perfect, but even in years where the vaccine has had low effectiveness in preventing illness, vaccination dramatically reduced deaths and hospitalization especially in children, said Dr. Gerald Fischer, president and chief executive officer of Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics and adjunct professor of pediatrics at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a school that prepares graduates for service in the U.S. Armed Forces’ medical corps.
Myth 1: Flu shots can cause the flu.
“Injectable flu vaccines are made from small portions of the flu virus and are not infectious,” Fischer said. The vaccine is made either with inactivated (killed) flu viruses or by using only a single gene from a flu virus as opposed to the full virus.
Myth 2: Healthy people don’t need the flu shot.
Everyone needs the flu shot, especially children over 6 months. “The majority of people that become infected with influenza each year are generally healthy. Healthy infants and children have an increased risk for severe disease and are key contributors to spread within households and the community,” Fischer said.
Myth 3: The side effects of the flu shot are worse than getting the flu.
“The most common side effect from receiving a flu shot is a sore arm, which lasts a day or two and can be treated with over the counter pain relievers,” Fischer said. “The flu generally lasts five to seven days and can require hospitalization. Like all medicines, treatments for influenza have side effects in some patients.”
Myth 4: The flu is not dangerous.
“Tens of thousands of people die every year in the United States from the flu and hundreds of thousands more are hospitalized,” Fischer said.
Myth 5: It’s too late to get flu shot.
“The flu season is generally most active from November to March. Late season outbreaks are very common,” Fischer said.