Misconceptions of Flu Shots, Part II

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On Friday, we increased health care awareness by listing 16 commonly-held myths about flu shots. We want our Concorde students, faculty and staff to be fully informed. So, we thought we’d list 16 more myths today.

These myths came from Kevin McHugh, MSCLS, AHI(AMT)CCP, CLS(NCA), MLS(ASCP)CM, Medical Laboratory Technician Program Director at Concorde’s campus in Memphis, Tenn., courtesy of NPR.org.

Myth #17: The flu vaccine weakens your body’s immune response

Fact: The flu vaccine prepares your immune system to fight influenza by stimulating antibody production.

Myth #18: The flu vaccine causes nerve disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome

Fact: Only the 1976 swine flu vaccine was linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, and influenza is more likely to cause the nerve disorder than the flu vaccine; the CDC says those with the Guillain-Barré should consult a doctor before getting the flu shot.

Myth# 19: The flu vaccine can cause neurological disorders

Fact: Neurological side effects linked to flu vaccination are extremely rare (see Myth #18); children with neurological disorders are actually at the highest risk for flu complications.

Myth #20: Influenza isn’t that bad. Or, people recover quickly from it.

Fact: Influenza can cause fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches and a sore throat for 1-2 weeks.

Myth #21: People don’t die from the flu unless they have another underlying condition already.

Fact: Otherwise healthy people do die from the flu. The elderly and young children are most vulnerable.

Myth #22: People with egg allergies can’t get vaccinated against flu.

Fact: People with egg allergies can get a flu shot but should consult their doctor or allergist on options if their allergy is severe.

Myth #23: If I get the flu, antibiotics will help me get better.

Fact: Antibiotics can’t treat a viral infection.

Myth #24: The flu shot doesn’t work for me, personally, because last time I got it, I got the flu anyway.

Fact: The flu shot cannot offer 100 percent protection against the flu, but it reduces your risk of getting it. Many people mistake symptoms from colds and other illnesses for the flu.

Myth #25: I never get the flu, so I don’t need the shot.

Fact: You can’t predict whether you’ll get the flu.

Myth #26: I can protect myself from the flu by eating right and washing my hands regularly.

Fact: A good diet and good hygiene are healthful habits that reduce the risk of illness but cannot prevent the flu on their own.

Myth #27: It’s OK if I get the flu because it will make my immune system stronger.

Fact: Even if the flu in a future season resembles a strain you’ve had before, the protection is likely to be incomplete and fades over time. Flu weakens your immune system while your body is fighting it and puts others at risk.

Myth #28: If I do get the flu, I’ll just stay home so I’m not infecting others.

Fact: You can transmit the flu without showing symptoms.

Myth #29: Making a new vaccine each year only makes influenza strains stronger.

Fact: There’s no evidence flu vaccines have a major effect on virus mutations.

Myth #30: The side effects of the flu shot are worse than the flu.

Fact: The most common side effects of the flu shot are mild, such as headache, fatigue, cough, low fever and arm soreness lasting a couple of days. Fewer than one in a million people experience severe allergic reactions.

Myth #31: The “stomach flu” is the flu.

Fact: The stomach flu refers to a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses unrelated to influenza.

Myth #32: If you haven’t gotten a flu shot by November, there’s no point in getting one.

Fact: Getting the flu shot any time during flu season will reduce your risk of getting the flu.

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