Every year, flu season arrives like clockwork. And every year, myths about the flu shot (some long-ago debunked) circulate again and cause confusion over whether to get vaccinated.
If you need a reminder on what's true about the flu -- and what's not -- keep reading.
Myth: I got a flu shot last year, so I don't need one.
Fact: The flu virus constantly changes, so last year’s flu shot may not protect you against this year’s virus. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated annually.
Myth: I’m healthy, so I don’t need one.
Fact: The flu can strike anyone, regardless of health status. And while you may be healthy, think about the elderly and young children you come in contact with. By getting vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself as well as those around you who might be vulnerable to the flu and its complications. People with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days of when illness begins, so if you do get it, you could pass it along to others before you even know you’re sick.
Myth: The flu shot can give you the flu.
This is one of the most persistent myths out there, but it’s not possible to catch the flu from the shot. That’s because the vaccine is made from inactivated flu virus, which can’t infect you. You may get a sore arm or temporary low-grade fever after your shot, but you won’t get the flu from it.
Myth: I’m pregnant, so I can’t get a flu shot.
Because changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from the flu, the CDC recommends a vaccination for all pregnant women. A flu shot during pregnancy also protects the baby from the flu for months after delivery.
Myth: I still got the flu even though I was vaccinated.
The flu shot is your best form of protection, but it’s not perfect. It’s designed to work against certain strains of virus, and those strains can change. It also takes the shot about two weeks to kick in. But even if getting vaccinated doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu altogether, it may lessen its impact and reduce your sick time.
Myth: I’m allergic to eggs, so I can’t get a shot.
Most flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg proteins, which led to the myth that people with egg allergies shouldn’t be vaccinated. If this is a concern, ask your doctor about whether an egg-free flu vaccine is available.
Get a flu shot! It’s your single best defense against the flu.
Fight the flu
In addition to getting vaccinated, there are other things you can do to fight against the flu:
Stay home when you’re sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
Wash sick peoples’ laundry separate from other items.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Clean surfaces regularly with a strong disinfectant.
Wash your hands with soap and hot water.
If you don’t have access to soap, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.