Flu Myths Debunked

Don't fall for these six flu vaccine misconceptions

(RxWiki News) Myths about the flu shot are widespread, and these misconceptions often cause people to opt out of this important vaccine. It's time to learn the truth about some common flu misconceptions.

Below, we've broken down and explained six common flu vaccination myths.

Myth 1: The flu shot will give me the flu.

The flu shot cannot give you the flu because the injection is a solution of an inactivated (killed) virus or includes a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray option contains weakened live viruses. Since they are weakened, they will not cause illness.

The flu shot helps you develop immunity to the flu by imitating an infection, and, in turn, it causes the immune system to produce antibodies.

Once this "infection" goes away, the body "remembers" how to fight that infection in the future. However, it can take as long as two weeks for the body to produce these antibodies after vaccination. This explains why you might have heard of someone getting the flu despite having received the flu shot. The body simply did not have enough time to build up protection after being exposed to the virus.

Myth 2: I’m pregnant, and the flu shot will give my unborn baby the flu.

Health officials actually recommend that pregnant women receive the flu shot to protect themselves and their unborn babies. Getting the flu shot protects the mother from complications of the flu and allows antibodies to be passed to the baby during pregnancy. These antibodies can continue to protect the baby several months after birth.

Myth 3: I never get sick, so I don’t need the flu shot.

The flu shot doesn't just protect you from getting the flu — it also protects those around you. Not everyone has a strong enough immune system to receive the flu shot, such as the very old or young.

By getting the flu shot, you are contributing to the safety of everyone in the community.

Myth 4: I got the flu shot last year, so I don’t need another one.

Health experts recommend getting a flu shot every year. Each year, the flu vaccine is developed specifically for the virus strains predicted to circulate during the upcoming flu season. Past flu shots will not protect you from the flu virus strains circulating this season.

Also, a person’s immune protection from flu vaccine declines over time. This is why getting a flu shot every year is needed. This will provide the “optimal” or best protection against the flu. 

To receive optimal protection this season, health experts recommend getting the flu shot by the end of October. 

Myth 5: I will get the flu shot later. That way, it can protect me through the end of flu season.

It's true that getting the flu shot later in the season can still be beneficial. In fact, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it's not too late to get vaccinated. But getting the shot earlier is likely to offer the best protection against the flu.

It takes approximately two weeks after you receive the flu shot for your body to make the antibodies that will protect you against the flu. That's why health experts recommend getting the flu vaccine before flu viruses begin to circulate in your community — not after.

Flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, which is why it's often recommended that you get the flu vaccine by the end of October. The flu season may include a peak between December and February and can even last as late as May.

Myth 6: It is better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine.

Flu can lead to serious complications especially in those with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Flu complications can lead to being hospitalized or even death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults.

Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.

This said, getting a flu shot is a safer option than risking getting the flu.

Even if you end up getting the flu after vaccination, several studies show flu vaccination reduces the severity of illness.

Ask your local pharmacist about the flu shot today.