4 Flu Vaccine Myths That Are Completely Untrue
It’s that time of year again when the flu starts dominating the news headlines. Recommendations come out on who should get the flu shot, especially those who are at higher risk for getting the flu. The myths about the flu shot usually start spreading around that same time during the flu season. We’d like to debunk those myths and recommend everyone over 6 months old get the flu shot.
1. The flu shot can give you the flu – Not True
One of the most common myths is that the flu shot can give you the flu. The flu shot can’t give you the flu because it’s made from “inactivated” or dead virus or no flu virus at all! This myth typically stems from people complaining of low grade fever or headaches in the days after their shot. In one large study, one group of people received the flu shot, and one group received a shot of “salt water.” The study showed there was NO differences between the two groups in terms of body aches, fever, cough and runny nose.
2. You don’t need to get a flu shot every year – Not True
Typically the flu virus has slight changes in it, so you need to get the most up to date flu vaccine to stay one step ahead of the virus. Some years the strain of virus is the same as before, but you still need to get the flu shot again because your immune protection declines over time from the prior years flu shot.
3. You might think you don’t need the flu shot since it’s already December
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you get the flu shot by October. This is typically the time the first flu outbreaks occur. However, peak flu season is usually in January, so getting your flu shot before then is ideal. Our Total Health Pharmacists recommend you get your flu shot as soon as it becomes available to you.
4. If you are pregnant you should not get the flu shot – Not True
The CDC does recommend pregnant women to get the flu shot. There is some controversy around the preservatives used in the flu shot for pregnant women. The preservative is called thimerosal, and although the FDA considers this safe, you can ask for a thimerosal free vaccine. In fact, most flu shots do not contain this anymore.
Please, be sure to get your flu vaccines this season!
The flu vaccine is a very important part of your preventative care. This is especially true in the elderly and children who are highest risk for developing complications. One day of a sore arm certainly beats a week on the couch with the flu, or possibly much worse. Total Health Pharmacists recommend you get your flu shot today!
- Carolyn Bridges et al. (2000). Effectiveness and cost-benefit of influenza vaccination of healthy working adults: A randomized controlled trial.
- Kristin Nichol et al. (1995). The effectiveness of vaccination against influenza in healthy working adults
- CDC Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines