Debunking 5 Myths about the Flu
The flu shot doesn’t cause the flu. The shot is an entirely dead virus— it’s impossible for it to replicate in your body and cause infection. The nasal spray is a very weakened strain (imagine a sprinter without legs or a bumblebee without wings) that is unable to replicate in the lungs to cause disease.The most common side effects after the shot or nasal spray are fatigue, low-grade fever, and runny nose (from the nasal spray).
You may feel like you “don’t get the flu.” Well, chances are that you do or you might. Research shows that anywhere from 5% to 20% of all adults get influenza every year. Anywhere from 10% to 40% of all children get it annually as well. Sometimes it’s just a mild infection; sometimes it’s far worse. You may not know you’ve had it unless a clinician tests you.
The flu shot doesn’t work. It does work, but like every shot, it’s imperfect. It is possible for someone to still get the flu after a flu shot, but the infection is far less severe when he or she has had the shot. Each year the flu shot can change in effectiveness due to differing strains that are included in the shot and that may circulate in your community. You need a flu shot every year because the influenza virus mutates while moving around the globe.
I’m healthy, so I don’t need a flu shot. We’re lucky that we’re healthy, but don’t let that fool you. Healthy children and adults die from the flu every year. Often about half of the children who die from influenza (usually a couple hundred each season) are healthy infants and children. About 30,000 people die every year from flu in the United States. The flu shot you get now can help protect you.
If you don’t “do” flu shots but you now have a child, you must change. Your children, particularly those younger than 4 years, and those infants too young to get a shot (younger than 6 months) are utterly dependent on you getting a flu shot so you don’t bring influenza home to them.
Additional Information & Resources:
- Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP
- Last Updated
- Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting, Child Health, and Work-Life Balance (Copyright © 2014 Wendy Sue Swanson)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.