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No Flu For You: 5 Flu Shot Myths Debunked

By Allison Bonner | September 1, 2020 | Health Conditions

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It’s that time of year; flu season is upon us. That means flu shots.

Maybe you’re ready to go and are rushing to Target because they’re offering discounts to shoppers who get the flu shot as an incentive. Great! You know the importance of getting the flu shot, not just for yourself but for your loved ones, too.

But maybe you’re not so ready. Maybe you’ve heard something that’s swayed your opinion this year. Something that scared you or made you think twice. We get it. Every year rumors circulate about getting vaccinated, from the outlandish to the plausible. And it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not, especially in this age of lightning fast communications.

Don’t let misinformation leave you unprotected from the flu. Here are five flu shot myths debunked, and resources to help you understand the flu vaccine this season.

Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.

Truth:You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. The injectible vaccine is made from dead and inactive viruses that can no longer spread the flu.

Myth: You don’t need to get vaccinated every year:

Truth: The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

The CDC put it this way:

Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 will be more important than ever.

Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19.

A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and sometimes updated to keep up with changing flu viruses. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.

Myth: September is too early to get a flu shot.

Truth: Not at all. Flu vaccinations actually begin as early as September, or as soon as the vaccine is available.

According to the CDC, you should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated early (for example, in July or August) is likely to be associated with reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season, particularly among older adults. Vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

Myth: The flu isn’t a serious disease.

Truth: If you or a family member contracts the flu (different from the common cold), the experience can be pretty miserable for all parties involved, and sometimes even catastrophic. Depending on the year, between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths are attributed to influenza.

These risks are especially true for people already at risk with conditions like asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, those who are pregnant, over 65 years old, or for those caring for someone with any of these conditions. We really can’t stress the importance of prevention by getting your flu shot.

Myth: It doesn’t really matter if I get vaccinated. I’m just one person.

Truth: The key to preventing a significant outbreak is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Over the last few flu seasons, less than half of those who should have been vaccinated actually received the flu shot. Anyone over the age of 6 months is encouraged to receive the flu shot.

There’s more information for our members here, as well as details about how you and your loved ones can get vaccinated this year, especially now that you know what’s true about the flu!