According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting your annual flu vaccination is the single most important step you can take to reduce your risk of catching the flu virus. However, thousands of people skip out on getting a flu shot every year because of common misconceptions about the flu.
As the flu season fast approaches, it’s a good time to take a look at these myths and debunk them.
MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
Some people avoid getting the vaccine because they’re afraid it will give them the flu, but this is simply not the case. Vaccinations are either made with “inactivated” versions of the virus, or with no virus at all. While very few people may experience side effects from the vaccine that are similar to the symptoms of the flu, like a low-grade fever, headache or muscle aches, they often go away quickly.
MYTH: Healthy people don’t need to get a flu shot.
Many times, we hear about how important flu vaccines are for seniors, children and those with certain health conditions, since these groups are at an increased risk for flu complications. However, the CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu shot unless your doctor has told you to skip the vaccination. Getting a flu shot also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to catching the flu and/or experiencing more serious symptoms.
MYTH: You don’t need a flu shot every year.
The flu virus changes from year to year, meaning a new vaccine must be developed annually. Even if this change is small, your body slowly loses immunity from the virus over time. To make sure you remain protected, make sure to get a flu shot each year.
MYTH: The flu isn’t any worse than a bad cold.
While the flu and a cold share a number of symptoms, the flu can be much more serious. According to the CDC, each year hundreds of thousands of people require hospitalization and thousands die from the flu virus or related complications.
MYTH: Flu vaccines aren’t effective.
Flu vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, but studies conducted by the CDC and others find that the vaccine typically reduces the risk of catching the flu by about 50 to 60%. This reduction in risk is especially important for those who are more likely to experience complications if they do get the flu. Taking precautions — including getting an annual vaccination — to avoid the flu can be life-saving.
Don’t let common misconceptions about the flu deter you from making the right decision for you and your family.