Fact or Fiction? Flu Shot Myth Busters

posted by Colette Rossiter on Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Flu (influenza) season is right around the corner.  As healthcare professionals, we field a lot of questions about flu vaccine.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this particular vaccine.  And these myths tend to resurface each fall.  So here are my TOP 5 FLU SHOT MYTH BUSTERS:

 The flu shot will give me the flu.  This is an easy one.  No, you cannot get flu from the flu shot because it is made with a virus that has been “inactivated” and unable to cause disease.  Can you experience a soreness or redness where the shot was given, or maybe a low-grade fever, headache or muscle aches?  Sure, but these symptoms only last a day or two and they don’t happen with everyone.  Remember, the most common reactions people have to flu vaccine are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness.

I never get sick so why do I need a flu shot?  Anyone can catch the flu!  The influenza virus spreads easily and doesn’t seem to care if you are fit and healthy.  Arming yourself with a flu vaccination not only protects you, but reduces the chance of bringing flu home to a baby, an older relative, or someone with a medical condition who could become seriously ill from the flu. 

My co-worker got a flu shot last year but still got the flu.  This is certainly possible.  No vaccine provides a 100% guarantee of protection.  However, the flu shot greatly reduces your risk of getting flu.  In addition, it can shorten the duration of your illness and make symptoms milder.  It’s important to remember that the vaccine does not protect against coughs and colds, and sometimes people confuse these with the flu.

I already had the flu so I don’t need a shot.  I’ll address this myth in two parts. 

1.  Influenza is NOT a “stomach bug.”  This has people confused every year.  Flu (influenza) is a respiratory disease with symptoms that come on suddenly and can last for a week or more.  You could experience a high fever, dry cough, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue. 

2.  Influenza is not spread by just one virus.  There are several strains of the virus that circulate in our communities every year.  So even if you got the flu, you are still vulnerable to the other strains spreading disease.  Flu vaccines protect you from 3 or 4 of these strains.

Kids don’t need flu shots, do they?  YES they do!  Influenza can be a serious disease for children.  Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza; thousands of children are hospitalized and some children die from flu.  Children younger than 5 years high risk of serious influenza complications. 

So with all this convincing evidence of the benefits of flu shots, where can you get one?  Flu vaccine is plentiful this year and is available at most pharmacies, medical clinics, and Clay County Public Health. Avera Medical Group Spencer will be offering flu shots, by appointment on October 27 from 8am - 5pm.  In addition to these sites, Public Health will be giving flu shots (with parent consent) at schools and preschools in Clay County this month. Protect yourself.  Your best shot is a flu shot!

About The Author

Colette Rossiter

Colette Rossiter, serves as manager for Spencer Hospital Community Health Services and Clay County Public Health. Colette has enjoyed the variety of responsibilities her nursing career has provided, yet has a passion for public health and safety.