Myth: “Only certain people should be getting a flu shot.”
In thepast, only certain groups were recommended to get flu shots. Now, we encourage everyone to get a flu shot. There are several groups considered "high risk" that really need to get a flu shot if they are able:
- Children between 6 months and 5 years old
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years old and older
- Anyone with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes or other long-term facilities
- Anyone who lives with or takes care of someone in any of these groups
- Anyone who lives with or takes care of children too young to receive the vaccine (under 6 months old)
- Healthcare workers
Myth: “The flu shot can give you the flu,” or "I got the flu shot and it gave me the flu."
The flu shot CANNOT cause the flu. The vaccine is inactivated, meaning it contains killed virus which cannot cause flu symptoms.
In the past, a live virus was used in the vaccine that could cause a mild form of the flu. This is no longer the case in current flu shots. The nasal-spray vaccine does still use a live but weakened flu virus. If someone becomes ill with the flu, they were either already exposed when they got the flu shot, or they were exposed before the flu vaccine became fully effective.
Myth: “The side effects of a flu shot are worse than getting the flu.”
Flu shot side effects are usually very minor. If you have any side effects, they will most likely be soreness or redness where the shot was given, a low-grade fever or achiness, and these will most likely go away within a day or two. Only on very rare occasions is there a severe side-effect, and that is usually an allergic reaction to eggs. Flu, on the other hand, can last up to two weeks and usually has severe symptoms.
Myth: “You must get a flu shot before December.”
While it is strongly recommended that you get a flu shot during October or November, it can still protect you from the flu if given in December or later.
Myth: “A flu shot will protect me from all other illnesses.”
A flu shot will usually protect you from the strains of influenza virus that are in the flu shot. It will also lessen your symptoms if you catch another strain. A flu shot will not protect you from other viruses that cause flu-like illness/symptoms. This year, the seasonal flu shot will not protect you from H1N1, and the H1N1 vaccine will not protect you from seasonal flu. To be protected, you should get both vaccines.
Myth: “A person only needs to get a flu shot once in their life to be protected.”
The flu virus slightly changes each year. As such, a new vaccine must be made each year. It is important to get a flu shot every year to protect you from the flu virus.
Myth: “Flu shots are not effective enough to get one.”
A flu shot is generally 70 percent to 90 percent effective in preventing illness in healthy adults. In children, it is about 50 percent to 80 percent effective in preventing the flu virus. Also, it has been shown to reduce severe ear infections in young children in over 30 percent.