Common Misconceptions of Flu Shots, Part I

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Flu season is upon us and, as a result, so is it time to think about getting the annual flu shot. The flu shot is a polarizing topic for some. Many believe in its effectiveness in preventing flu and get vaccinated every year. Others not only don’t believe it’s effective, but think it could actually be harmful. It’s a topic that could use some increased health care awareness.

We want our Concorde students, faculty and associates to be informed on all topics related to health care awareness. So, we sought out some advice from one of our resident Concorde experts – Kevin McHugh, MSCLS, AHI(AMT)CCP, CLS(NCA), MLS(ASCP)CM, Medical Laboratory Technician Program Director at Concorde’s campus in Memphis, Tenn.

Kevin pointed us to a recent article published on NPR.org that listed 32 myths about the flu vaccine you don’t need to fear. That’s too many to list in one blog. So, we’ll list the first 16 today and then publish Part II on Monday.

So, today, here are the first 16 myths about the flu vaccine you don’t need to fear.

Myth #1: You should fear Ebola more than the flu

Fact: Flu kills more people in a year in the U.S. than Ebola has killed in the history of the world.

Myth #2: You don’t need the flu vaccine this year if you got it last year

Fact: You need a new flu shot each year because the circulating strains change and immunity from the vaccine fades.

Myth #3: The flu shot is a “one size fits all” approach that doesn’t make sense for everyone

Fact: You have many flu vaccine options, such as the shot, including egg-free versions, and a nasal spray.

Myth #4: The flu shot makes some people able to only walk backward

Fact: The condition of a young woman who could apparently only walk backward after getting a flu shot was found to be psychological, not neurological.

Myth #5: Deaths from the flu are exaggerated

Fact: Thousands of people die from flu in the U.S. in a typical year, including more than 20,000 in the 2006-2007 season.

Myth #6: The flu vaccine can give you the flu

Fact: The flu shot can’t give you the flu because the virus it contains has been inactivated or severely weakened.

Myth #7: Flu vaccines contain dangerous ingredients, such as mercury, formaldehyde and antifreeze

Fact: Flu shot ingredients are safe, but people with allergies to ingredients in some vaccines, such as gelatin, should avoid vaccines with those ingredients.

Myth #8: Pregnant women shouldn’t get the flu vaccine

Fact: Because influenza can cause miscarriages, pregnant women should get vaccinated against flu to lower the miscarriage risk.

Myth #9: Flu vaccines can cause Alzheimer’s disease

Fact: There is no link between flu vaccination and Alzheimer’s; flu vaccines protect older adults who are at increased risk for flu-related health consequences.

Myth #10: Pharmaceutical companies make a massive profit off flu vaccines

Fact: They’re a tiny source of profit and are made by only a handful of companies.

Myth #11: Flu vaccines don’t work

Fact: Flu vaccines reduce the risk of flu, though their effectiveness in any particular year varies.

Myth #12: Flu vaccines don’t work for children

Fact: Flu vaccines effectively reduce the risk of flu for children ages six months and up.

Myth #13: Flu vaccines make it easier for people to catch pneumonia or other infectious diseases

Fact: Flu vaccines reduce the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses or complications from the flu.

Myth #14: Flu vaccines cause heart problems and stroke

Fact: Flu shots reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.

Myth #15: Flu vaccines can damage a protective barrier between the blood and the brain in young children, hindering their development

Fact: Flu vaccines have been found safe for children six months and older.

Myth #16: Flu vaccines cause narcolepsy

Fact: A European vaccine against the swine flu in 2009 was linked to narcolepsy, but the U.S. seasonal flu vaccine does not cause narcolepsy.

Myths #17-32: More health care awareness coming Monday

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