Myths and Facts About the Flu Shot

The Influenza vaccine, generally known as the flu shot, is common in the fall and winter months, also known as cold and flu season. And millions of people go to get their flu shots every year.  In fact, recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that the vaccinations help to reduce the virus by 40-60% in the overall population during flu season. However, some people are convinced that the vaccine is ineffective or even dangerous. Getting the facts about the flu vaccine can make a difference in your and your family’s health this flu season.

Residents in the Little River, South Carolina, with concerns about the flu and other upper respiratory infections have Dr. Rogers Walker and Walker Urgent and Family Care to help with questions and treatment. His facilities offer the latest diagnostic and treatment available for a variety of acute and chronic conditions.

Here are five examples of common myths about the flu vaccine:

Myth 1: The flu vaccine gives you the flu.

This myth pops up every flu season because flu vaccines are created using a protein of the inactive flu virus to help build your body's immunity to specific strains of the flu. Vaccines work by introducing inactive pathogens (organisms that cause disease, such as bacteria or viruses) to trigger the immune system to respond and fight them off if you are exposed to them. 

Flu shots cover three or four strains of flu, depending on what strains of the virus are expected to be active that season. The flu vaccine won’t give you the flu, but it will protect you from getting multiple types of it.

Myth 2: You don’t need a flu shot annually.

The problem with this myth is that our resistance from vaccines weakens over time, and vaccines do not stay the same. Viruses are difficult to get rid of completely, and when we develop a resistance to them, they will change, and vaccines have to change with it. Viruses don’t stay the same from year-to-year, and vaccines have to keep up to continue protecting you.

Myth 3: Flu shots are dangerous.

Vaccine skeptics routinely cite traces of thimerosal and formaldehyde, which are used to kill the active virus to create the vaccine, as reasons to avoid them, because both are dangerous substances. However, thimerosal is used to prevent fungi and bacteria growth as the vial enters the syringe while preparing patients for vaccination, and the amount of thimerosal in the vaccine is easily processed through your body with no danger to you. Formaldehyde has been used for decades in vaccines to inactivate viruses, and the highest amount of it present in a dose is .02 milligrams. We produce larger quantities of formaldehyde in our bodies as children. Neither ingredient is ever in a high enough dose to be dangerous for patients getting a vaccine shot.

Myth 4: The flu vaccine side effects are worse than the flu.

When you get the flu shot, side effects like mild aches, fatigue, headache, fever, or mild discomfort at the point of injection are possible, but temporary. Most side effects from the vaccine subside in a few days and are mild compared to getting the flu. 

Myth 5: Flu shots don’t work.

You may get a strain of the flu that isn’t covered by your vaccination, but even if you do, the vaccine can reduce the severity of the virus and shorten the time you’re dealing with it. A 2018 study shows that of the people that were hospitalized for the flu, vaccinated patients spent up to four days less in hospital care than those that weren’t. Even if you end up getting the flu after being vaccinated, it can still help you recover more quickly than without it.

Getting vaccinated doesn’t remove the risk of ever getting the flu, but it helps protect you from many strains at once and reduces the length of time you’ll be sick if you catch it. Flu shots are a safe and important way of staying healthy during cold and flu season. If you need to get your flu shots, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent and Family Care today.

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