7 Flu Shot Myths That Need To Be Debunked ASAP
It's the beginning of October, which means two seasons are quickly approaching: The holiday season, and unfortunately, the beginning of the 2018-2019 flu season. Though many people do not understand the safety and efficacy of the flu shot, it is the best protection against the dangerous infection. In fact, many of the rumored side effects you've probably heard about the flu vaccine — like that the shot can cause the flu — are actually not true at all. These flu shot myths contribute to misinformation about the flu, leading people to not get the shot, which is not only dangerous for those people who are vulnerable to the flu, but even worse for people who are already immunocompromised and unable to get the shot — and who are relying on others to get the shot to prevent the spread of the disease.
As fellow Bustler Mia Mercado reported last week, the CDC discovered over 80,000 people in the United States died from the flu in 2017 — the highest mortality rate that's been recorded in over four decades. Meaning, prepping ahead and protecting yourself from the flu with the vaccine is going to be crucial to staying healthy during this season. Experts have predicted that this year's flu season won't begin to peak until December, so you still have a window of time to get your flu shot before your coworkers, friends, and family start calling in their sick days. (Of course, you should get your vaccine any time, even if you can't sneak it in until after December.)
If you still have concerns about the shot, here are seven myths it's time to debunk about the flu vaccine.
1. The Flu Shot Is Ineffective
Like any viral infection, the flu virus constantly mutates and creates new strains of illness every year, meaning that the flu vaccine can't protect against every strain that's going around. However, that doesn't mean that the flu vaccine is a dud. According to the CDC, "flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations during the 2016-2017 influenza season."
2. Healthy People Don't Need To Get The Shot
A lot of people assume that if they're typically "healthy," they don't need to get the flu shot. Unfortunately, this isn't true: No one is immune to the flu, so getting the shot is always your best bet towards being protected. Furthermore, people who are immunocompomised and can't get the vaccine depend on healthy people to get the shot, to avoid spreading the infection to people who cannot be protected.
3. You Don't Need It Every Year
Simply put, it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest flu vaccine. Yes, that means getting it every, single year. Why? The virus has a multitude of different strains, scientists and researchers are constantly updating the vaccination so it's most effective against the strain they've predicted will be most common in the coming season.
4. The Flu Shot Can Give You The Flu
One of the most pervasive myths about the flu shot is that getting it can actually cause you to get the flu. The Mayo Clinic explains that, "The flu vaccine can't give you the flu. But, you might develop flu-like symptoms — despite getting a flu vaccine — for a variety of [other] reasons." This includes being exposed to the flu virus before your shot takes effect, contracting a different strain of the virus, or having adverse, flu-like side effects because of the vaccine. It's important to note, however, that studies have shown only 1 to 2 percent of people who get the flu shot will experience a negative reaction.
5. You Can Get Salmonella From The Vaccine
According to the CDC, "The most common way that flu vaccines are made is using an egg-based manufacturing process that has been used for more than 70 years." Despite being produced via raw eggs, you cannot get salmonella poisoning from the flu shot. As The Wall Street Journal reported back in 2010, eggs used for flu vaccines don't come from commercial food farms, and are "tested vigorously for pathogens." What's more, CNN reported a study published last December determine the flu shot is safe for people egg allergies.
6. It Can Mess Up Your Muscle
Some people claim the flu shot can mess up your muscle, but this is yet another myth: While it may cause temporary muscle pain or tenderness, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. University of Pittsburgh professor and director of PittVax, Richard Zimmerman, explained to Popular Science in 2017 that the pain in your arm actually means the vaccine is doing its job.
7. The Flu Shot Is "Poisonous"
One of the most controversial beliefs about the flu vaccine is that the ingredients are "poisonous," and can make you sick. While it does contain small traces of ingredients that would poisonous in large doses — such as formaldehyde or preservatives such as thimerosal — Healthline reported that studies have "overwhelmingly" found the flu shot is safe.
When it comes to the flu vaccine, the rewards definitely outweigh any potential risks. You can get the vaccine at most major drug store chains, or at your doctor's office, too. Be sure to get your vaccine ASAP so you can have the best chance of flu-free this winter.