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Do Flu Shots Really Work?

Published on Nov. 24, 2020

Myths and Facts About the Flu Vaccine

munson healthcare flu vaccine myths and facts do flu shots work

Fever, cough, chills, sore throat…could it be the flu? Millions of Americans get the flu each year, with a large number ending up in the hospital because of it (710,000 were hospitalized from 2017 to 2018). The contagious respiratory infection affects the entire body and is typically spread when a person coughs or sneezes.

The most effective way to avoid it is to get a flu shot every year. However, there are a few misconceptions about the shot that cause people to skip the important preventative measure. Here’s some fact and fiction about the flu vaccine.

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Myth: The Flu Shot Can Give You the Influenza Virus

Fact: It’s not possible for the shot to spread influenza because it doesn’t contain the live virus. Some people might experience mild soreness, redness, or swelling where it is given. More rare flu shot symptoms include headache or having a low-grade fever.

Myth: I’m Healthy and Never Get Sick, so I Don’t Need to Get a Flu Shot

Fact: Even people that are extremely healthy and active can get influenza. Serious complications can occur for anyone. Everyone six months and older should get vaccinated as the circulating strains of the virus change each year. Older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and those with certain chronic medical conditions are most at risk.

Myth: The Flu Shot Doesn’t Prevent Me from Getting Influenza. What’s the Point of Getting One?

Fact: Getting a flu shot doesn’t 100% guarantee you won’t get influenza, but it significantly reduces your risk. The flu shot protects you and those around you from several of the common types of influenza. In general, the flu vaccine is very effective.

Myth: Flu Vaccines are Just for Kids

munson healthcare flu vaccine flu shot myths and facts

Fact: The seasonal flu affects people of all ages. In fact, just last flu season (2019-20) an estimated 38 million people suffered flu symptoms. Each year, the seasonal flu among adults leads to missed workdays and precious time with loved ones - and even hospitalizations and death. Not to mention, when you get your annual flu shot, you not only protect yourself but others around you. Simply put, getting your flu shot helps stop the spread! 

Adults at most risk from the flu include: 

  • People 65 years and older
  • People of all ages with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
  • Pregnant women
  • Children under the age of 5

Myth: It Isn’t Safe to go to the Doctor for Your Flu Shot

Fact: Our doctors’ offices and local health departments are taking every precaution to keep you safe. This includes universal masking, visitor screenings, signage and scheduling that promotes physical distancing, routine cleaning disinfecting, reduced waiting room time, and in some cases, drive-thru” style flu shot clinics that get you immunized for flu season right from your car.

This year, we may be facing two disease outbreaks at the same time. It’s more important than ever to get your flu shot to help keep you, your family, and our communities safe and out of the hospital. Ask your doctor about other vaccines you may need for your age, health conditions, job, or lifestyle. 


Myth: Vaccines are too Expensive for my Family

Fact: If you are without insurance this year, don’t let that stop you from getting the flu shot at a lower or no cost. Many Munson Healthcare provider offices offer free immunizations for children with Medicaid and who are uninsured through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. Call your doctor today and ask if they offer this service.

Visit Vaccinate Your Family's website for more info on VFC and other free or low-cost vaccine resources. Or, contact your local health department.

Ready to get your flu shot?

Find a FREE Flu Clinic


Find flu shot locations close to home – or check out one of our upcoming free drive-thru flu events!