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Flu Vaccine Myths & Facts

According to the CDC, the flu vaccine prevented around 7.5 million flu cases, 105,000 flu hospitalizations and 6,300 flu-associated deaths in the 2019-2020 flu season. Despite these significant numbers, there is a large pool of myths surrounding the flu vaccine. We broke down some of the most common myths surrounding the influenza vaccine to help you break through the rumors, learn the facts and fight the flu.

Myth or Fact?

Myth: The flu shot gives you the flu.

Fact: The flu vaccine does not contain the live flu virus. Vaccines only contain proteins from the flu or a dead flu virus, so the vaccine cannot lead to illness. If you feel sickly after getting your flu shot, it is most likely a natural immune response to an injection, which is very common with vaccines.

Myth: The flu shot doesn’t offer a lot of protection from getting sick.

Fact: While the flu shot does not make you immune to the illness, some protection is better than no protection. According to the CDC, the vaccine reduces the risk of catching the flu by around 40 to 60 percent.

Myth: I got the flu vaccine and then got the flu, so the vaccine doesn’t work.

Fact: Since the vaccine is not 100% effective, it is possible to contract the flu virus. But even in those cases, having had the vaccine can reduce the severity of your symptoms significantly. It could save you from being hospitalized or from having more severe complications. It’s also important to keep in mind that it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect, so be mindful of your exposure during that time period to keep yourself protected.

Myth: I don’t need the flu shot because I never get the flu.

Fact: While you may not have had the flu in the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t ever get it. Healthy individuals are just as likely to get the flu as those with underlying medical conditions. Also, the flu shot is not only for your protection but for those around you. The people you encounter may not have as strong of an immune system as you. Some individuals who are more susceptible to serious complications are pregnant women, the elderly and those with diabetes and asthma.

Myth: The vaccine is not safe for pregnant women.

Fact: The flu vaccine reduces the risk of respiratory illness in pregnant women by around 50%, so they are highly encouraged to get the flu shot. The vaccine also helps protect the baby from the flu for several months after they are born by passing on important antibodies while they’re in utero.

Myth: The flu is just a bad cold.

Fact: A common cold is non-life-threatening and rarely results in serious complications, but the flu does not. The flu can be a serious illness that leads to thousands of deaths, hospitalizations, and pneumonia cases every year.

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

Fact: The flu strains change every year, so the vaccines also change to prepare for the strain expected to be the most dominant. Even if the vaccines didn’t change, your flu shot from over a year ago wouldn’t be able to protect you this flu season.

Myth: I have a chronic health condition and the flu shot could make it worse.

Fact: It is recommended that those with medical conditions avoid the nasal flu mist because it contains a weakened version of the flu virus—but the flu shot does not. Those with underlying health conditions are encouraged to get the vaccine since getting the flu can worsen many medical conditions like cancer, COPD, diabetes and heart disease. Those who have questions or concerns are encouraged to talk with their healthcare provider.

Myth: I can’t get the flu shot because I’m allergic to eggs.

Fact: While the vaccine does not actually contain eggs, most flu shots use an egg-based manufacturing process that leaves a small trace of egg protein. People with mild egg allergies can still receive the vaccine. If you have a severe egg allergy or have had an allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past, it’s best to talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine.

Myth: I waited too late in the season, so it’s not worth it.

Fact: The best time to get the flu shot is from September to October when flu season begins. If you miss that period, it’s still not too late to get the vaccine. Flu season reaches its peak in February and can continue until early summer—so better late than never!

Fight the flu and become an antibody builder by scheduling an appointment to get your flu vaccine today! To find a Harbin Clinic flu vaccine location closest to you or to learn more about being an antibody builder, click here.

Published November 11, 2022