5 Common Flu Shot Myths Debunked

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September 08, 2020 | Tags: Wellness

Every flu season, the importance of getting an annual flu vaccine is widely advertised by doctors, health insurers and pharmacies. This is because the vaccine can protect you, and vulnerable individuals around you, like older adults or pregnant women, from the potentially life-threatening effects of influenza. But this year, with the coronavirus (COVID-19) still actively spreading, getting a flu shot is more important than ever.

Keep reading to determine fact from fiction when it comes to common flu shot myths.

Fiction: I could get the flu from the flu shot.
Fact: A flu shot cannot cause the flu. Flu vaccines contain an inactive virus and therefore are not infectious. Some may believe they’ve contracted the flu because the most common side effects are skin soreness, redness or tenderness as well as skin swelling around the flu shot area. Less common side effects include low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches. These potential side effects only last one to two days.

Fiction: I don’t need to get the flu shot every year.
Fact: A flu shot is needed every year because viruses change constantly. Every year, the vaccine is formulated specifically to predict which strains of influenza will be most common. Also, multiple studies have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. You have the best chance of being protected from influenza by getting a flu shot in the fall each year.

Fiction: If I forget to get the flu shot in the fall, it’s too late for the vaccine to be effective for me.
Fact: Though flu season generally starts around October, most cases usually occur between December and March, so getting the vaccine later in the season is still worthwhile. However, it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and protect against the flu. That’s why it’s best to get the shot before influenza starts spreading in your community, even if you are in perfect health.

Fiction: The flu shot will protect me from COVID-19.
Fact: Unfortunately, because COVID-19 is a different type of virus than the flu, there is no scientific evidence that the flu shot will protect you from COVID-19. However, to avoid contracting both viruses at once, or during the same season, it is recommended that everyone over six months of age gets a flu vaccine. Additionally, getting a flu shot can prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed by both flu and COVID-19 patients needing serious care. There is no COVID-19 vaccine available for widespread distribution at this time.

Fiction: Antibiotics will help cure my flu symptoms.
Fact: Antibiotics don’t fight infections caused by viruses. Taking antibiotics for illnesses such as a cold or the flu can contribute to antibiotic resistance, where bacteria and fungi in your body form the ability to decrease or stop the effectiveness of antibiotics. Antibiotics should only be prescribed by your doctor for a bacterial infection.

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Sources: The Cleveland Clinic, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The material provided is for your information only. It does not take the place of your doctor’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should make decisions about your care with your doctor. What is covered by your health insurance will be based on your specific benefit plan.