You probably know the flu shot is important to help protect against the influenza virus. But, do you know what NOT to believe about the flu shot? There are LOTS of myths about the flu shot floating around; here are 5 myths that you definitely should not believe!
Myth #1: "The Flu Shot Causes the Flu"
This is False. Please tell your mother, your father, your kids, your friends, and everyone else who needs to hear this. While this is false, I totally understand why you might think the flu shot causes the flu. When I was a medical student, I got the flu shot and a few days later became the SICKEST I had been in years. I was convinced it was the flu shot. Even though I had learned as a medical student that it wasn't, I was still quite skeptical. So, I can certainly understand your skepticism.
But, the flu shot doesn't cause the flu. This is by far, the BIGGEST misconception about the flu. According to the CDC, Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so that they will not cause illness."
There are other reasons why we might get sick around the time we get the flu shot. I won't go into them here, but watch this video to get the explanation.
Myth #2: "I Got the Flu Shot But Still Got Sick, So the Flu Shot Must Not Work."
I can understand why you might think this way, BUT, it's not true. The reason why is that the flu vaccine only protects against certain strains of the FLU virus. So, if you become exposed to any other virus or even a different strain of the flu, you can still get sick. Interesting, huh?
(I got my flu shot the other day, click below to see how that went down)
Myth #3: "Pregnant Women Should NOT Get a Flu Shot"
This is FALSE. On the contrary, pregnant women SHOULD get a flu shot. Some studies have shown that the flu shot lowered a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent.
Myth #4: "I Never Get Sick and Don't Get the Flu, So I Don't Need to Get a Flu Shot"
This is FALSE. Getting a flu shot not only protects you, but protects other people as well, including people who may be at higher risk for flu complications (young children, those with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with underlying medical conditions).
Also, while you might not get sick with the flu often (thank goodness for that), it's not guaranteed that you won't get the flu in the future and the flu shot will help protect you against that.
Myth #5: "The Flu is Not Serious"
This is definitely not true. "The flu hospitalized between 140,000 and 710,000 people in the United States annually between 2010 and 2020, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Annual deaths tied to the flu ranged from 12,000 to 52,000 in the U.S. over the same period, " says the Cleveland Clinic.
Finally, if you don't have health insurance, you can still get a flu shot at low or no cost at many public health departments and other facilities. I hope this was helpful! Please get your flu shot!
Dr. Jen Caudle is a board-certified Family Physician, Associate Professor at Rowan University, TV health expert, and video creator. Sign up to receive Dr. Jen's Daily Health Tips to get daily emails (Mon-Fri) with health information you can use to live a healthier life. Follow her on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.