The Facts and Myths About the Flu Shot

Nov 1, 2017

Did you get your flu shot? It’s not too late.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that while influenza vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available, usually in October, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered even in January or later.

If you have been hesitating because you think the flu shot will give you the flu, will cause side effects worse than the flu or isn’t effective, think again.  It’s biologically impossible for a inactivated vaccine to give you the flu. The flu shot takes two weeks to confer protection, and it takes 2-5 days to incubate a flu virus, so a person who does come down with the flu within a week of getting the shot was already infected when they  got the vaccine. The flu can be deadly. About 23,600 deaths in the U.S. are attributed to flu each year. While there are many variables because the flu shot has to be reformulated every year in anticipation of which viruses will be prevalent, recent studies show vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by about 50%  to 60%.

Now, if what has been keeping you from rolling up your sleeve is a fear of needles, I have some bad news: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices found that the nasal spray vaccine did not protect against certain strains of the flu virus that were most prominent the past three seasons. The nasal spray vaccine effectiveness was 3 percent compared with 63 percent for the injected vaccine. Thus, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the nasal spray vaccine this flu season.

Resources:
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/24/457103549/worried-about-the-flu-shot-lets-separate-fact-from-fiction
American Association of Pediatrics Flu Recommendations for 2016-17
https://vaccinefinder.org/