Flu Vaccine: Fact vs. Fiction

Each year, before the flu bug hits, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine spread like a virus itself. And with last year’s flu vaccine only being about 40% effective, according to the CDC, convincing non-believers about the importance of getting vaccinated is more challenging than ever. Which is why more than half of the people in the United States won’t get vaccinated, putting friends, family, and co-workers at risk for contracting influenza.

So, if you’re looking for excuses not to get the flu shot — it’s time to separate flu fact from flu fiction.

Here are 5 common myths about the flu shot we’re busting wide open:

Myth: The flu vaccine makes you sick


Many people often mistake the common side effects of the flu vaccine (such as muscle aches, headaches or low-grade fevers) with contracting the flu itself. Which is why this is one of the most common flu vaccine myths infecting the general population. In fact, the flu vaccine is made with an inactivated virus or no flu virus at all, so you cannot get influenza from the flu shot.

Myth: The flu vaccine has adverse health effects


While minor side effects of getting the flu shot (soreness at the injection site, for example) typically last 1–2 days, significant damage or death as the result of the flu vaccine is especially rare. In fact, the risk of a severe allergic reaction is less than one in four million.

Myth: I don’t need to get the flu vaccine every year


The vaccine changes each year to match the current circulating flu viruses, so it’s never the exact same shot year-to-year. Your immunity from the flu shot also declines over time, making it incredibly important to get vaccines every year.

Myth: I’m healthy, so I don’t need the flu vaccine


Anyone can contract the flu, and it can be potentially serious, even deadly, no matter how healthy you are. That’s why the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine. While infants under the age of six months are too young to get the flu vaccine, you can protect them by getting vaccinated yourself. People over 65 are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as they are more likely to have serious complications if they get the flu.

Myth: I have to get the flu vaccine during the Fall to avoid the flu


The flu vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to build immunity in your body, which is why the CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October. However, you can get the vaccine later on in the flu season to protect yourself against influenza. And while you can still technically get the flu even after you’ve been vaccinated, your symptoms will be much less severe compared to those who didn’t get vaccinated.

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Article sources: CDC, MedExpress and NFID