It’s that time of year again when many families are faced with the decision to get the flu shot or play flu season roulette. While you might be tempted to skip the flu shot, check out the truth behind some common flu myths before you decide.
Myth: The flu vaccine causes the flu.
Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital conducted a recent survey of 700 parents across the country and found that over half of American parents believe that you can contract the flu virus by getting the flu shot…which is simply not true.
“The parts of the virus that are used are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” Jean Moorjani, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children said in a press release. “After receiving the shot, it takes your body about two weeks to build up antibodies to fight the flu, so if you come in contact with the virus during that time, you may still get sick, which is why you should get your flu shot as early as possible.”
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Myth 2: The flu shot doesn’t work.
One-third of parents believe that the flu shot doesn’t work. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control notes that while the flu vaccine might not be 100 percent effective, it still reduces the risk of contracting and spreading the disease by up to 60 percent.
Myth 3: The flu vaccine causes autism.
Twenty-eight percent of the parents surveyed believed that the flu shot causes autism. “After years of research, we know that the flu vaccine is safe,” said Moorjani. “The flu shot does not cause autism or any other diseases or illnesses. Doctors recommend the flu shot because it is the best way to protect you and your family from the flu.”
Myth 4: The flu shot you got last year is enough.
The flu vaccine needs to be administered every year to be effective. “The flu virus changes each year, so the vaccine changes too. Plus, the body’s immune response to the vaccine declines over time, which makes a yearly vaccination important,” says Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer, UnitedHealth Group.
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Myth 5: Exercise and a healthy diet are all you need to avoid the flu.
While regular exercise and a well-balanced diet are both beneficial, they won’t stop you from catching a virus. “It is true being healthy may help you recover from illness more quickly, but it won’t prevent you from getting or spreading the flu virus. Even healthy people can be infected and spread the flu virus without showing symptoms,” says Dr. Miglori.
Myth 6: Getting the flu is no big deal.
The CDC reports that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, while 36,000 die from it each year. The flu can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, young children and people 65 and older. Infants under 6 months are unable to get the vaccine themselves, so it’s important that parents and older siblings get vaccinated to prevent spreading infection to babies too young to be vaccinated.