young girl has a fever related to the flu

Busting the most common flu myths

Don’t let bad information guide you into harm’s way this flu season. Know the difference between what is true about the influenza vaccine and what is false. Then go get vaccinated.

Myth: The vaccine can give you the flu.

Fact: Many people wonder, “Can the flu shot make you sick?” or “Can you get sick from the flu shot?” The answer is no. OSF HealthCare offers vaccines that aren’t live viruses and cannot infect you. The vaccine won’t make you sick or give you the flu. You are more likely to get the flu or severely sick if you don’t get the flu shot.

For example, Flucelvax Quadrivalent is a common vaccine given. It contains “killed” or inactive flu viruses. It helps prevent subtypes A and types B of influenza. It is redeveloped each year to protect against the dominant strains of the virus for that season.

Myth: You don’t need to get vaccinated every year.

Fact: Immunity to the influenza virus declines over time, so you should get the flu shot every year for maximum protection. Plus, the vaccine is updated every year to protect against the flu strains expected to be most common.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all those age 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year.

Myth: Getting vaccinated guarantees you can’t get the flu.

Fact: It takes up to two weeks after getting vaccinated to build up immunity to the flu. You can still get sick during this period. Plus, even after getting vaccinated, you could still catch the flu, however you’re more likely to avoid getting seriously ill and have a much smaller risk of hospitalization or death. Take steps to prevent the spread of germs during the flu season.

Myth: The flu is not dangerous.

Fact: The flu causes the deaths of thousands of people every year. The very young, the very old or people with health issues are especially at risk of dangerous effects of the flu.

Getting the flu vaccine helps reduce the risk of serious illness and complications.

Myth: The flu vaccine side effects are worse than getting the flu.

Fact: Side effects may include soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fever, muscle aches, nausea, fatigue, runny nose, headache, sore throat and cough.

Side effects are usually mild and short-lasting. Getting infected with the flu often results in more unpleasant, longer-lasting symptoms.

Myth: People with a latex allergy cannot get vaccinated.

Fact: OSF HealthCare offers vaccines that don’t contain any latex. Those with any flu shot allergy should talk with their primary care provider to ensure they choose the best option to protect against the flu, which includes friendly options like a latex allergy flu shot.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several flu vaccine options, including a shot or nasal spray.

Myth: People who are allergic to eggs cannot get vaccinated.

Fact: According to the CDC, “people with a history of egg allergy of any severity should receive any licensed, recommended and age-appropriate influenza vaccine.”

If you have any allergy, especially people with egg allergies, talk with your primary care provider about which vaccine is the best for you.

Myth: There is mercury in flu shots.

Fact: It used to be standard for there to be thimerosal in vaccines. Thimerosal contains ethylmercury. In small doses, ethylmercury is not harmful to humans. However, it isn’t as common to find thimerosal in the flu vaccine anymore.

According to the CDC, “Flu vaccines in multi-dose vials contain thimerosal to safeguard against contamination of the vial. Most single-dose vials and pre-filled syringes of flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine do not contain a preservative because they are intended to be used once.”

OSF HealthCare offers the one-dose flu shot, which is thimerosal free. The two-dose vaccine has a small amount of thimerosal, containing a level that is perfectly safe for humans.

Last Updated: October 3, 2022

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About Author: Ken Harris

Ken Harris is the proudest father and was a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.

He has a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.

In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.

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Categories: Preventive Health