Flu Vaccine Myths: Fact vs. Fiction

Mother and daughter at the doctor's. Little girl is receiving a vaccine. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786662][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/medicine.jpg[/img][/url]

‘Tis the season… for the flu. Headaches, fever, chills and a sore throat are just a few of the symptoms associated with the flu, and peak season is right around the corner so if you haven’t already gotten your shot, do it soon.

Given the number of flu vaccination myths associated with the flu vaccine, we sat down with Dr. John Butler, Chief Epidemiologist at Memorial Hermann, to dispel some of the most common.

MYTH #1: I’m young and healthy so don’t need a flu vaccine.

Dr. Butler: Anyone can catch the flu and in fact, some strains of the flu (such as H1-N1 or swine flu) are more prevalent in younger, healthy adults.

MYTH #2: The flu vaccine will give me the flu virus.

Dr. Butler: One of the most popular flu myths of all, many people believe that the flu vaccine actually transmits the virus. It is true that the vaccine can occasionally cause some minor aches along with discomfort at the injection site but it most definitely does not transmit the virus.

MYTH#3: The flu shot didn’t work last year so I shouldn’t get one this year.

Dr. Butler: It is true that the flu shot did not protect against one of the common strains of the virus last year, but that should not be the case this year. The CDC believes this was a “once-in-a-blue-moon” occurrence and this year’s vaccine should be better at protecting against different strains of the virus.

MYTH #4: Flu shots cause paralysis.

Dr. Butler: Paralysis is an incredibly rare side effect that has happened to less than one in a million individuals after a flu vaccine.

MYTH #5: Pregnant women should not receive a flu shot.

Dr. Butler: Pregnant women should exercise caution when it comes to vaccines and medicine that could potentially harm the baby. However, avoiding the flu vaccine could do more harm than good. The flu vaccine does not cause any damage to unborn children but if a pregnant woman catches the flu, it could potentially affect the baby. The CDC actually views pregnant women as a high-risk group for the influenza virus and advises them to receive the vaccine.

MYTH #6: I already had the flu this year so no need for a flu shot.

Dr. Butler: While it is rare, there is a possibility that a person can contract the flu more than once a year, especially if they have not received a flu vaccine. Your body may be immune to the strain of flu that you’ve already battled, but there are other strains that you can catch.

MYTH #7: If you have an egg allergy, you can’t receive a flu shot.

Dr. Butler: The flu vaccine does contain eggs but there are alternatives for those who have an egg allergy. If you do have an egg allergy, consult with your doctor for an acceptable alternative to the traditional flu vaccine.

If you haven’t received your vaccine yet, frequently washing your hands is one way to stay healthy. It’s also important to remember that if you do come down with the flu, stay home from school or work to rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid spreading the virus to others.

Get Your Shot Today.

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, we can help you find one.

You can also visit any one of our walk-in clinics for a flu vaccination.

Tashika Varma