10 Common Myths about Flu Shots

January 8th, 2014 4 Min read 10 Common Myths about Flu Shots Blog
flu-shotThough doctors continue to recommend that nearly everyone six months and older receive a flu shot, rumors to the contrary continue to circulate during flu season. Here are 10 myths you may need to debunk for your patients:
  1. Flu shots can give you the flu. Flu vaccines contain dead flu viruses that cannot give you the flu. Some patients, however, do experience tenderness, redness or swelling where the shot was given. Because flu shots are administered during the fall and winter when colds are rampant, many people mistake cold symptoms (runny nose, sore throat or fever) with the flu. Patients may also have been exposed to the flu before receiving the flu shot.
  2. You can’t get a flu shot if you’re allergic to eggs. While those with a severe anaphylactic reaction to eggs should avoid traditional flu shots, most people will not experience any allergies as a result of flu shots. If patients are concerned about vaccines manufactured with egg proteins, the new Flublok vaccine is another option.
  3. You don’t need to get a flu shot every year. Unlike vaccines for rubella and tetanus, which can last for years, the flu vaccine is often different each year to fight the most current strain. The body’s immunity to the flu also declines over time, so it’s best to get a flu shot annually.
  4. Flu shots are dangerous. Unless patients have had a severe reaction to flu shots in the past, it is safe for them to receive one each year. It’s much safer to get a flu shot than to risk getting the flu. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates vaccines prevented 79,000 flu hospitalizations and 6.6 million flu-associated illnesses during the 2012-2013 flu season alone.
  5. You should get a flu shot late in the season so it’s more effective. Flu season begins in October and can sometimes stretch into May. However, it can take two weeks for the flu shot to be effective, so patients may want to receive a flu shot earlier (in October) to protect themselves from the virus. It’s important to note that receiving a flu shot later in the season is better than not receiving one at all.
  6. If you had the flu recently, you don’t need to get a flu shot. Unfortunately, there are usually two strains of the flu circulating during any flu season, so everyone should get a flu shot, even if they have had the flu within the past few months.
  7. Pregnant women shouldn’t get a flu shot. Pregnant women are very susceptible to the flu and should get a flu shot as soon as it is available. They should, however, receive the shot and not the vaccine nasal spray.
  8. You don’t need to get a flu shot unless you get sick easily. The flu can affect people of all ages, regardless of how healthy they are. Additionally, those who don’t become ill easily, but receive the flu shot anyway, protect people who are more likely to develop the flu, including children and the elderly.
  9. Getting a flu shot won’t really make a difference. Flu-related illnesses send thousands to the hospital each year, and some even die from the virus. Those who receive a flu shot protect themselves and others from the latest flu strain.
  10. If I get a flu shot, I don’t need to take other precautions against the flu. While the flu shot can provide immunity against the virus, patients can still get sick during flu season. It’s best to stay away from people who are ill, wash hands frequently and cough into an elbow or tissue to avoid spreading germs.
These myths (and the facts that dispel them) can help you reassure patients who have qualms about the flu vaccine and encourage them to receive one each year.


Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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