Reluctant to get a flu shot? We get it, some people are hesitant to get the shot, and it’s for all sorts of different reasons. However, a lot of folks’ fears are actually based on misconceptions. That’s why we want to debunk some of the myths, so you’ll feel safer keeping yourself protected from the virus.
1. Myth: The flu shot contains thimerosal.
While this may have been true in the past, it’s not anymore. The majority of available flu vaccines come in single-use syringes or vials that do not contain mercury-based preservatives. That means they don’t include thimerosal. To be sure, you can always ask your healthcare provider before taking the shot.
2. Myth: You can catch the flu from getting the shot.
This is totally not true. Injectable flu vaccines can’t give you the flu because they’re made with either inactivated flu viruses or recombinant DNA antigens. The latter of which doesn’t contain the virus at all.
At worst, you may experience soreness, a headache, and/or low-grade fever for a day or so. However, the flu shot does take several weeks to actually take effect. Therefore, you can get the flu if you’re exposed to it before your body builds up an immunity. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot as soon as you can.
3. Myth: The shot doesn’t work.
Ok, it is possible that you could still get the flu, we’ll admit it. There’s no guarantee you’ll be perfectly immune. However, the shot can reduce the risk of you getting sick by up to 60%. Plus, if you do come down with the flu, having had the shot will reduce the severity of it.
4. Myth: It can cause nerve damage or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
GBS can be developed regardless of whether or not you’ve been vaccinated. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it’s unlikely the flu vaccine has much, if anything to do with it.
“If there is an increased risk of GBS following flu vaccination it is small, they explain, “on the order of one to two additional GBS cases per million doses of flu vaccine administered.”
Some fears of developing GBS stem from the 1976 swine flu vaccination program. However, subsequent research shows there’s little to no increased risk with today’s vaccines.
5. Myth: It’s not important to vaccinate against the flu.
While the vaccination isn’t perfect, it can help you and those around you stay healthy. While people typically don’t die from the virus itself, getting sick can lead to complications. Those issues that arise as a result of getting sick cause tens of thousands of deaths every year.
With the flu comes an increased risk of also developing bacterial pneumonia. Unfortunately, that can sometimes be fatal, especially for young children and seniors. There are several other causes of death that can be associated with the flu as well.
Of course, even if you do develop the flu, having had the vaccine can lower the risks of complications. And that’s why it’s worth it to go get vaccinated as soon as you can if you haven’t already.