Myths and Facts About the Flu Shot

Healthcare provider putting bandage on patient's arm after flu shot

Fever, cough, chills, sore throat… could it be the flu? Millions of Americans get the flu each year, and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized due to complications that can be life threatening. This contagious respiratory infection affects the entire body and is typically spread when a person coughs or sneezes.

The best way to avoid the flu is to get your annual flu shot. However, there are a few misconceptions about the flu shot that may lead people to skip this important preventative measure. Continue reading to explore the myths vs. facts about the flu shot.

Myth: The Flu Shot Can Give You the Influenza Virus

Fact: The flu shot cannot give you the flu because it doesn’t contain the live virus. Some people might experience mild soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given. These symptoms simply mean that your immune system is responding. More rare flu shot symptoms include headache or a low-grade fever. Flu shot symptoms typically go away within 24 hours. 

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

Man getting bandage after receiving flu shot

Fact: Even people who are extremely healthy and active can get the flu, and serious complications can occur for anyone. 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: The Flu Shot Doesn’t Prevent Me from Getting Influenza. What’s the Point of Getting One?

Fact: Getting a flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get influenza, but it significantly reduces your risk and the chance for severe symptoms should you get sick. 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

Fact: The seasonal flu affects people of all ages. In fact, just last flu season (2022-23), an estimated 27-54 million people suffered flu symptoms. Each year, the seasonal flu 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! 

Myth: I Got My Flu Shot Last Year, so I'm Protected

Fact: Last year's flu shot created antibodies to protect you from the most anticipated flu strains for that season. Because circulating strains of the virus change each year, the flu shot is updated annually to protect you against the most anticipated strains.  

Myth: Vaccines Are Too Expensive for My Family

Smiling girl showing off bandage after vaccination

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 and local health departments 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 to learn more about free or low-cost vaccine resources. Or, contact your local health department.

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