When it comes to flu shots, there are a lot of myths out there about the shot and its effects. See if you can tell fact from fiction in the most common flu shot myths below.
I need to go to my doctor to get a prescription to get my flu shot.
Fiction: There is no prescription needed to get your flu shot. Simply stop by the pharmacy to get yours today!
Getting the flu shot is just one step to protecting myself from the flu this season.
Fact: During cold and flu season, experts recommend staying hydrated, getting lots of sleep, avoiding people who have the flu, and washing your hands with soap and water frequently. All of these steps together can help prevent spreading the flu and other illnesses.
I don’t want to get the flu shot, it will give me the flu!
Fiction: The flu shot is an inactive version of the virus that cannot transmit infection, and can take up to two weeks to provide you with full protection, so if you were exposed to an illness before you got your shot, you were likely going to get sick anyway.
Even if it’s late in the flu season, getting a flu shot can still help protect me.
Fact: While flu season typically lasts from August through March, there is no definite time frame for “flu season,” so as long as the virus is circulating, it is beneficial to get your shot. Better late than never.
I don’t need to get the vaccine because I am healthy.
Fiction: Even though you may not contract the illness, you can still spread the virus to those who are at a higher risk for getting the flu like small children and the elderly.
The flu isn’t that bad, I’m better off taking my chances.
Fiction: While symptoms of the flu closely resemble those of the common cold, they are often times worse, and account for 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year. The flu can also lead to other, more serious complications, so better to get vaccinated rather than take the chance of getting the flu.
I can still spread the flu, even if I don’t have any symptoms.
Fact: The flu virus is contagious and can be spread between adults within 1 day of infection. This means that before you even know you are sick, you may be passing the virus onto others. According to the Harvard Flu Resource center, 20-30% of people who carry the flu virus never show symptoms, but can still pass it along to others.
I got vaccinated last year, so I don’t need to get the shot this year.
Fiction: The flu strain changes each year, so it is important to get vaccinated against the strain most likely to cause an outbreak during the current season.
“10 flu myths.” Harvard Health Publications [Web blog post]. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/10-flu-myths.htm.
“Key Facts About Influenza & Flu Vaccine.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm.