Myth: Flu vaccines cause people to become sick with the flu.
While some people may experience mild aches or soreness from the vaccine, the vaccine itself does not cause the flu. Mild aches are much more manageable than the flu, which can take you away from work or school for several days.
Fact: High-risk groups should get the flu vaccine, but they are not the only ones. Everyone should receive a flu shot.
Doctors highly recommend the flu vaccine to high-risk groups, including children 6 months and older, adults over 65, pregnant women and those with chronic illness. However, it is important for everyone to receive the flu vaccine to decrease the spread of disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season. It is also important for those who work with others in close proximity to receive a flu shot – this includes healthcare professionals (clinical and non-clinical), teachers, airport staff, etc. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is through flu vaccination.
Myth: Flu vaccines do not work to prevent the flu.
It is true that some vaccine components are less protective against some flu strands than others. The effectiveness varies year to year, but overall the risk of getting the flu is much lower if you are vaccinated than if you are not.
Fact: Flu vaccine must be repeated every year.
The flu vaccine lasts for months, but it does not last year to year. It is important to receive a flu vaccine every year to protect yourself and those around you.
Myth: Flu vaccines often cause neurological problems.
Neurological problems associated with the flu vaccine are extremely rare. In fact, the risk of contracting neurological problems from the actual flu is higher than getting it from the vaccine.
Fact: The nasal flu spray vaccine is no longer recommended or used.
The CDC no longer provides nasal flu spray vaccine because of its low effectiveness. The most effective vaccine is the injectable flu shot, which protects against four different types of flu strands.
The fact is: the key to flu prevention is receiving the flu vaccine. Other everyday preventive actions include covering you coughs and sneezes, frequent hand-washing and avoiding those who are sick. If you begin to develop flu symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhea, contact your doctor immediately. To stay up-to-date on all things flu, visit cdc.gov/flu.
About the Author
Jeffrey Grills, MD, serves as Freeman Health System Vice President of Medical Affairs. Dr. Grills received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, and completed his residency in pediatrics at Indiana University Hospitals, Indianapolis, Indiana. Board-certified in pediatrics, Dr. Grills practiced for more than 18 years with Freeman Children’s Clinic. He has served as VP of Medical Affairs since 2015.