Myth: You can get the flu from the flu shot.
Truth: If you get sick right after your vaccination, it’s not from the shot itself. Chances are the virus had already been brewing in your system, or you were exposed before the vaccine became fully effective, which usually takes two weeks. Or, you may have been exposed to a strain not included in the seasonal vaccine.
Every year, many are hospitalized with severe complications from influenza. Some die. Protect yourself and those you come in contact with by getting an annual preventive flu vaccination.
Truth: Antiviral medication may shorten the flu by one or two days and make symptoms less severe if started within two days of its onset – but it is not a cure.
Antibiotics won’t cure the flu either – they treat bacterial infections, while the flu is a viral infection. Antibiotics may be prescribed if you develop a secondary bacterial infection like pneumonia.
Myth: Pregnant women should not get the flu shot.
Truth: Pregnancy increases a woman’s risk for seasonal influenza complications, so it’s extra important women get vaccinated to protect themselves and their unborn child. The flu shot has not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Myth: The flu vaccine is not safe for the elderly, those with a chronic illness such as asthma, or people allergic to eggs.
Truth: The elderly and those with chronic illness are not in danger from flu shots, but they are at increased risk from flu itself, often due to weakened immune systems and decreased antibody responses. The standard shot is not as effective for some elderly patients, but there is a high-dose version available intended specifically for people over 65.
Adults and children who experience mild allergic reactions to eggs (such as hives) may receive the flu shot, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which says “any licensed and recommended flu vaccine (i.e., any form of IIV or RIV) that is otherwise appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status may be used.” CDC says people with more severe egg allergy may also receive the flu vaccine, when supervised by a healthcare provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.
Myth: If I’ve already had the flu, I don’t need the flu shot.
Truth: You may have had a particular strain of the flu or some other virus, but the flu shot covers several different strains expected to circulate during a season. The type of flu that infects people changes from year to year; that’s why you need the vaccine on a yearly basis. Be on the safe side and get vaccinated.