Influenza Vaccine: Flu Myths vs. Flu Facts

Does a flu shot cause the flu? Do healthy people need a shot? Here are the answers to some myths.

The flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family. However, misconceptions about vaccination persist. Here are seven common myths about vaccination.

If you're looking to get a flu vaccination, here is a list of places to go in Plymouth and Canton.

Flu Myth #1 A Flu Shot Causes the Flu

No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the vaccine during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot.

Flu Myth #2 The ‘Stomach Flu’ is a Form of the Flu

Many people use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or “sick to your stomach” can sometimes be related to the flu — more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.

Flu Myth #3 The Flu Shot is Dangerous

Over the last 50 years, seasonal flu vaccines have had very good safety track records. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received seasonal flu vaccines. Every year the same methodical process is used to make vaccine to protect against the different flu strains. Vaccination is the gold standard of care recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), safe to receive and the most effective way to protect against the flu and spread of infection.

Flu Myth #4 Younger, Healthier People Don’t Need a Flu Shot

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season as everyone is at risk of infection. This includes health care workers, pregnant women, people 65 and older, people who have certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, and people who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications.

Flu Myth #5 Antibiotics will Treat the Flu

Because flu is caused by viruses and not by bacteria, antibiotics aren’t effective. Antiviral drugs can treat flu illness. They can make people feel better and get better sooner and may prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, for example, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. These drugs are different from antibiotics, but they also need to be prescribed by a doctor. They work best when started during the first 2 days of illness. It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat the flu in people who are very sick (for example people who are in the hospital) or people who are at greater risk of having serious flu complications. Other people with flu illness may also benefit from taking antiviral drugs and should see their physician.

Myth #6 The Vaccine Does Not Work, Why Get it

The flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu, and vaccination is the main tool used to protect people from influenza. But protection is never 100 percent, and some people can still get the flu after being vaccinated. How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent influenza illness) can range widely depending on who is being vaccinated. In general, the flu vaccine works best among young healthy adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses might develop less immunity than healthy young adults after vaccination. However, even for these high-risk individuals, the flu vaccine still can provide protection against getting severe complications from the flu. While determining how well a flu vaccine works is challenging, in general, recent studies have supported the conclusion that influenza vaccination benefits public health, especially when the viruses in the vaccine and circulating viruses are well-matched.

Myth #7 It’s Too Early to Receive a Flu Shot

Flu seasons are unpredictable. They can begin early in the fall and last late into the spring. As long as flu season isn’t over, it’s not too late to get vaccinated, even during the winter. Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family. The flu vaccine offers protection all season long.

This information was provided by the The Henry Ford Health System.

kevinrileyhome@yahoo.com January 14, 2013 at 02:45 PM
This is not a news article but an advertisement for the pharmaceutical companies.
John McKay (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Kevin, you're mistaken. This is not, in any way, an advertisement. It is, however, an information piece submitted by the Henry Ford Health System, as indicated in the post.
Paddy Clark January 16, 2013 at 04:55 PM
As someone who works in healthcare, Kevin, the pharmaceutical companies don't need articles like this to boost sales of a life saving vaccine. However, many uneducated people definitely need to read this, because, unfortunately, to many of them do not get vaccinated and we end up with epidemics on our hands like we have this season. One of my best friends and her family are highly against the flu shot, and what was she just diagnosed with yesterday? The flu. I'll be forwarding this article to her posthaste. Hopefully between my yammering and this article, they'll go get their flu shots.
kevinrileyhome@yahoo.com January 16, 2013 at 09:48 PM
John, I want to say that I think you do a great job with delivering local news for Patch. I believe I was a little harsh in my statement because I was expecting an article that would reflect both sides to the story.
kevinrileyhome@yahoo.com January 16, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Paddy, I respect your opinion on this matter but there are two sides to the story. I am not a doctor nor do I work in the medical field. However, I do have three small children so it was important for me to educate myself on this topic. I am not a conspiracy theorist that believes the flu shots are intended to cause long term illnesses which will require further medical care, thus increasing the profits for the medical field and pharmaceutical companies. I’ve read all those stories and disregard them.
kevinrileyhome@yahoo.com January 16, 2013 at 09:49 PM
I do know that there have been thousands of medications over the years that at one time were deemed safe but were later banned for having dangerous side effects including death. I also know that injections may be tainted, as we have recently seen in the back pain injections that caused meningitis outbreaks and deaths. There are also the known side effects for any vaccination. Attached is what I believe is an unbiased article written by a PhD regarding the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine. I am not saying no one should receive a flu shot. However, based on the attached and similar articles, along with my personal knowledge & beliefs, it is of my opinion that it is in the best interest of myself and my family to not receive a flu vaccination. Once again, I am not a doctor or chemist, nor do I work in the medical field, and everyone will have to make their own decision. But that decision should be based on their own health situation along with information gathered from both sides of the coin. Hopefully Paddy, you will also send this information to your friend posthaste so she can make an informed decision based on her own health status.
kevinrileyhome@yahoo.com January 16, 2013 at 09:49 PM
John, I will attach the link separately in case you need to delete it because of a Patch policy regarding links to other web pages. Anyone that wants to read it may feel free to email me and I will pass the link on to them.
kevinrileyhome@yahoo.com January 16, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Why the Flu Vaccine doesn't work. Anne Helmenstine PhD http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howthingswork/a/aa011604a.htm


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »