Goldfish have a three-second memory, caffeine dehydrates you and chewing gum takes seven years to digest. Which of these are true? None of them! All three of these statements are myths.

The truth is, we live in a myth-filled world, especially when it comes to health and wellness. Some of the most well-known myths surround flu shots, but these myths should not prevent you from getting one each year. It is the number one way to protect yourself against the flu.

Walk into your flu shot appointment with all the facts by reading up on these debunked myths:

Myth: The flu shot gives you the flu

Debunked: The flu shot is made up of a dead virus which can’t give you the flu. When it enters your body, it creates antibodies (proteins that fight infection). The antibodies then protect you against the virus’ infection, which lowers your risk of getting the flu.

Myth: The flu shot puts you more at risk for catching other respiratory viruses

Debunked: This is a common myth, but many studies have been done that show the flu shot has not been proven to raise your risk of catching other respiratory viruses. 

Myth: The flu shot is not needed if you’re healthy 

Debunked: Even if you are healthy, you can still get the flu. While your risk may be lower than others, you can still easily spread it to those who are more susceptible than you. Healthy people should still get the flu shot to protect themselves and others around them. Even among healthy folks, the flu shot can prevent days lost from work.

Myth: It is not necessary to get the flu shot every year

Debunked: The CDC recommends getting a flu shot every year because the flu virus can change and the immune protection provided by the shot decreases over time. The flu shot is reformulated each year to target the most recent flu viruses likely to cause illness.

Myth: The flu only spreads after symptoms appear

Debunked: The flu is contagious about two days before and seven days after symptoms appear. More of a reason to get the flu shot! You could feel fine and still be spreading the flu.

Myth: It’s too late to get the flu shot in the winter

Debunked: As long as the flu is going around, a flu shot is effective and recommended. It’s important to keep in mind that it takes two weeks for the flu shot to start working.

With more than 7,700 people in North Carolina testing positive for the flu in the 2016-2017 season, you should get your flu shot. If you’re a Blue Cross NC member, use the What’s True about the Flu page on our website to find the flu shot provider closest to you.

Dr. Larry Wu

About Dr. Larry Wu

Larry Wu, MD is a regional medical director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and provides consultative services for employee health solutions, prevention, chronic disease, care management, medical expense and utilization management. He is a family physician with over 20 years in clinical practice, has served as clinic director in the Indian Health Service, Kaiser Permanente and Duke Family Medicine and currently maintains a part-time clinical practice.