Although flu season is behind us (or ahead of us, depending on your perspective), many myths about the flu vaccine hang around all year long. With COVID-19 lingering, the importance of a flu vaccine cannot be overstated — and these myths can be the only thing standing in the way of someone choosing to get their flu vaccine.
Below, we debunk five of the most common myths about the flu shot so that when flu season comes around, you know the facts — and can make an informed decision when it comes to the flu vaccination.
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Myth 1: The Flu Vaccine Gives You the Flu
To many, the idea of getting injected with the flu virus to prevent from catching the virus sounds counterintuitive — primarily because flu vaccinations do not contain the live virus. The flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus, meaning the flu vaccine is not actually giving you the flu. Still, those receiving flu vaccines are likely to experience some flu-like symptoms, which have led to the perpetuation of the myth. Though not the flu, some flu-like symptoms from the flu vaccine include:
Redness around the injection site
Myth 2: Those with Egg Allergies Can’t Get the Flu Shot
Did you know that flu vaccines are made using an egg-based manufacturing process? If you did, it’s likely because you have an egg allergy — and have possibly been avoiding the flu shot for that reason. Despite this fact, there are flu shot variations available that do not include eggs, and the myth that individuals with egg allergies can’t get the flu vaccine is entirely false. Just be sure to let your healthcare professional know that you have an egg allergy, and they can provide you with an egg-free alternative.
Myth 3: The Flu Shot is Not For Pregnant Women
This myth is not only false, but the opposite is actually true; women who are pregnant who receive the flu vaccine are 40% less likely to be hospitalized with the flu, and women who are pregnant are far more likely to become seriously ill from the flu than non-pregnant women according to the CDC. However, the CDC does advise that pregnant women receive the flu vaccine and not the live, attenuated vaccine — but postpartum women can safely receive either type.
Myth 4: Babies Are Too Young for Flu Shots
While newborns should not receive vaccines, parents are encouraged to begin vaccinating infants regularly once they are six months old. In children six months and older, the flu shot is safe and can be life-saving. According to the CDC, the flu shot significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization from the flu illness in children and can also diminish the possibility of high-risk complications. Further, vaccinating children six months and older can help disease control and spread to children who are not old enough to get their annual flu shot.
Myth 5: A Flu Shot Can Be Harmful to Elderly Immune Systems
As individuals age, they face an increased risk of serious illness and complications from the flu — which is why it is especially important for elderly populations to get the flu vaccination. During most flu seasons, individuals over 65 are at the highest risk of serious illness due to the influenza virus. The National Council on Aging notes that individuals over 65 might not respond as well to the influenza vaccine as younger populations but different variations of the flu shot can prompt a better response in elderly immune systems.
When it comes to vaccination, the Trusted Referral Network encourages all individuals to be informed — and we hope this article helped clear up some common misconceptions about the flu shot. Through our network of healthcare professionals, you have access to all the resources you need to make an educated decision about vaccination for you and your family.
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