Five Myths About The Flu Vaccine - Debunked

September 26, 2018

As the flu season ramps up, so do the rumors and myths about the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

At Purohit Pediatric clinic, we’ve heard our fair share of these myths. And since our number one priority is providing quality healthcare and preventative services to your child, we feel it’s our responsibility to debunk these myths and provide the right information to current and potential patients – especially since the flu can be a life-threatening illness for children.

So here are the 5 most common myths we hear about the flu vaccine, debunked.

Myth: You can get the flu from the vaccine

Truth: This rumor is somewhat ironic considering that the point of the flu vaccine is to *prevent* the flu in the first place. While the flu shot contains an inactivated flu virus, it is not infectious. Therefore, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. That said, the nasal mist administration does include a live virus that could cause some mild, flu like symptoms. However, it will not “give you the flu.”

The important thing to remember here is that it IS possible to get the vaccine and still get the flu. There are multiple factors – such as age, health status, and the particular flu strain – that all play a part in whether or not you get sick. It’s important to remember that even if your child gets the flu from a different strand, the flu vaccine can limit the duration of the illness and protect him or her from some of the life-threatening complications that can accompany it.

Myth: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated

Truth: While your immune system certainly plays a role in how or when you get sick, we have to remember that the flu doesn’t discriminate. Healthy or unhealthy, everyone is at risk.

Parents, this is especially true for children. The flu doesn’t care how active your child is, how well they eat their veggies, or how often they get sick. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control recommend that ALL children 6 months an older receive the annual flu vaccine.

Myth:  The vaccine is all you need to protect yourself from the flu

Truth: While the vaccine absolutely can prevent you from getting the flu, it’s not always guaranteed. As we mentioned in a previous entry, there are always other factors that determine whether or not you get sick.

On average, the flu vaccine’s effectiveness ranges between 60% and 90%. Additionally, it can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect, and most children need two rounds of shots. During this time, it’s still possible to get the flu. That’s why it’s important for you to take additional steps to avoid exposure to the flu. These include:

  • Washing your hands as often as possible
  • Keeping distance from anyone who might have the flu
  • Avoiding large crowds
  • Refraining from eating or drinking after others
  • Keeping your hands away from your mouth and eyes

Myth: You don’t need the flu shot every year

Truth: While we tend to refer to “the flu” in the singular, the truth is that there are actually multiple different strands of the virus. Each of those strands has the ability to rapidly mutate, which creates new strands of the virus every year.  This is why new vaccines have to be manufactured for every flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control:

“The seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine is designed to protect against the three or four influenza viruses research indicates are most likely to spread and cause illness among people during the upcoming flu season. Flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine composition is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick, the extent to which those viruses are spreading, and how well the previous season’s vaccine protects against those viruses.

Simply put, vaccines are created to protect you from the strands that are likely to be the most common *this year*. Last year’s vaccine will not protect you today. That’s why it’s so important to get vaccinated on a yearly basis.

Myth: Flu vaccines cause severe reactions and side effects

Truth: As it is with all vaccines, it’s possible that your child may experience some minor side effects to the flu vaccine. These may include malaise, low grade fever, and minor aches.

For most people, these side effects are caused by the production of anti-bodies in your system and will usually subside within a day or two.

That said, there are some people who *should not* receive the vaccine, such as:

  • Children under 6 months
  • People who have a history of severe (life-threatening) allergies to previous doses of the flu vaccine.

Additionally, the flu vaccine WILL NOT in any way give your child autism.

If you have any questions about the flu vaccine or would like to get your child vaccinated, call Purohit Pediatric Clinic today.

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