Truth about the flu vaccine

Some people just don’t like shots. Others have heard myths about the flu vaccine. But this time of year, it’s important to consider getting a flu shot to keep yourself and those around you healthy. Let’s explore common misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

Can I get the flu from getting the flu shot?

No. You cannot get the flu from getting the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is made one of two ways:

  • Flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated” and are therefore not infectious, or
  • With no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case of recombinant influenza vaccine).

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?

No. The flu can pose serious health threats, especially among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma. Any flu infection carries a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among children and adults considered healthy. Getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.

Do I have to get the flu vaccine every year?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months or older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. Your immune protection from vaccination declines over time, making annual vaccination needed to get the “optimal” protection against the flu.

Can I have a reaction to the flu shot?

Yes, but it’s not something that should keep you from getting the flu vaccine. The most common reaction to the flu shot in adults has been soreness, redness or swelling at the site where the shot was given. This usually lasts for about two days. Initial soreness is likely the result of the body’s early immune response reacting to a foreign substance entering the body. Other reactions following the flu shot are usually mild and can include a low grade fever and aches which can last one to two days after the vaccine is given. Serious allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare.

References: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm

Get the facts about the flu here.

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Article by:

Diana Schweikhart, R.N., COHN-S

Diana Schweikhart is the director of occupational medicine, safety and health for UofL Physicians. Schweikhart worked at UofL Hospital for more than 26 years and has more than 22 years of experience in employee/occupational health. Schweikhart also worked as the interim manager for employee health over the KentuckyOne West Market. She developed and implemented many programs in regards to employee immunizations, education and safety. She graduated from UofL School of Nursing in 1989 and received certification as a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist in 1995.

All posts by Diana Schweikhart, R.N., COHN-S
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