Top 5 Flu Vaccines Myths with Dr. Abukhater

Aug 25 2023

Flu season is fast approaching, so make sure you are educating yourself about flu vaccine myths.

No one likes having the flu, a respiratory illness with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or nagging cough. But the good news is there are steps you can take during flu season to protect yourself. Step one is everyone making sure they get their flu shots.

The flu vaccine is an effective way to avoid getting the flu. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the vaccine and this misinformation can keep people from keeping themselves safe.

Sleiman Abukhater, MD, of Mercy Health – Sheffield Primary Care dispels the top five flu vaccine myths, giving you the facts that you need to know.  

Myth: The flu vaccine can give me the flu.

Fact: The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu because it contains an inactivated flu virus, not live viruses. This means if someone was to get sick after receiving the vaccine, they likely were going to get sick with or without the shot. This is because it takes a week or two before you’re protected from the flu.

That said, it is normal for people to sometimes experience mild soreness or redness around the injection site. Feeling a little achy or feverish is rarer but is still a possible side effect. However, it’s important to remember that side effects indicate a natural response from your immune system to the vaccine and typically only last a day or two.

Myth: The flu vaccine doesn’t work because I still got the flu.

Fact: There are several reasons someone may still get the flu after getting the shot. As noted in the previous fact, if someone was exposed to the flu before they got their vaccine or in the two-week period after their vaccination, it’s possible for them to get sick as they haven’t had enough time to develop antibodies. It’s also possible for people to develop other respiratory viruses that have similar symptoms to the flu.

Each year the flu vaccine is formulated to protect against certain variations of the virus, or types of flu. If someone contracted a variant of the flu virus not in the vaccine, then they could still get sick. However, studies have shown that overall, those who still get the flu after receiving the vaccine have less severe symptoms than those who do not.

Myth: I’m young and healthy so I don’t need a flu shot.

Fact: The flu can make even young and healthy people seriously ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. Kids are most likely to get sick, and people aged 65 and older have the most flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. So, even if you’re healthy and don’t fall into those at-risk categories, you can still help protect others by getting your flu shot.

Myth: I’m pregnant so I shouldn’t get the flu vaccine.

Fact: Pregnant people are especially at risk for getting the flu virus because their immune systems are weakened. If you are pregnant or immunocompromised, you should absolutely get the flu shot to protect yourself from serious illness. The CDC recommends that pregnant people should get the flu shot and not the nasal spray vaccine. You can always talk to your health care provider about the vaccine before you get the shot to answer any questions you may have.

Myth: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.

Fact: You need to get the flu vaccine every year because flu viruses are constantly changing, and so is the vaccine. As influenza viruses mutate and the viruses that cause the flu change year over year, vaccines are updated to keep pace and protect against evolving strains. In fact, the flu shot you got last year won’t necessarily protect you from the circulating viruses in the community this year. The protection provided by the flu vaccine also gets weaker over time. So, even if the virus is similar from one season to the next, your vaccine from a year prior won’t keep you from getting sick this year.

Now that you are update on the top five flu vaccines myths, start making your plans to get your flu vaccines for this year!

Learn more about the flu vaccines as well as the primary care services we provide at Mercy Health.

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