Flu Vaccinations: Myths vs. Facts

Even though we are still in the warmth of summertime, it is important to start thinking about taking care of yourself later this year with an annual influenza (flu) vaccination. Flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last until May in some cases. The flu commonly causes a few miserable days off work or school, but it can have even more serious effects, including hospitalization or even death. Because the flu is easily spread, getting an annual vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself from the virus.

There are many misconceptions about the flu vaccine, and many people decide against getting the shot out of fear of possible side effects. Here are some common myths and facts explained:

MYTH: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
The vaccine often produces side effects, including soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; low grade fevers; nausea; or aches. These side effects can be easily confused with the flu, but are usually mild, rare, and often short lived.

FACT: It can take up to two weeks after getting the flu vaccine for your body to build immunity.
The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in your body, but it is not instant. It’s best to get it early and be mindful during those two weeks, making sure you wash your hands multiple times a day.

MYTH: Flu vaccines are only important for young children, pregnant women, and older adults.
While these groups are at the most risk of suffering serious complications from the flu virus, it is recommended that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot. Just a few minutes can save you from an illness that can cause serious problems, so be ready this fall by taking time to schedule your flu vaccination.

FACT: The vaccination changes every year.
The most common strains of the flu change each year, and the flu vaccine usually covers the three strains of the virus anticipated to be the most common during the coming season. For this reason, you should get the flu shot annually. Keep in mind that since the flu vaccine covers the three most common strains, there is a possibility that you could be infected by a different flu virus.


Sources: Centers for Disease Control. cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Accessed 28 June 2016.
Mayo Clinic. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000. Accessed 28 June 2016

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