6 Flu Shot Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

If you happen to be one of the millions who intend to opt out because you read a social media post that insists you don’t need a flu shot for whatever reason — you’re too healthy, the shot will give you the flu, the vaccine contains a microchip that will turn us into robots — please reconsider.

Don’t allow conspiracy theories or false/misleading facts to dictate whether you and your loved ones should get vaccinated against the flu. Here are 7 reasons why the vaccine is safe, effective, and necessary.

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Myth #1: Flu Shots Don’t Work, Since You Can Still Catch the Flu After You’ve Been Inoculated

Just because the flu vaccine isn’t 100% perfect, it doesn’t mean we should just then not get it at all. Keep in mind that there are multiple strains and they change every year, and as a result so does the vaccine. The vaccine developers do their best to predict which strains are the most dominant, and base the formula for the latest vaccine on this. When the vaccine matches up perfectly with the particular strain, the shot is very effective. But even if the strain and vaccine are not perfect matches, and you do end up getting the flu, it still provides a layer of protection that renders the virus weak. This means your recovery time is quicker and you’ll save a trip to the doctor.

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Myth #2: You Can Get the Flu From the Vaccine Itself

This is a huge myth that a lot of folks believe. They think they’re literally being injected with the flu and all of the nasty things that come with the virus. But in reality, the vaccine contains an inactive virus, which means you absolutely will not get sick from getting the shot. Although feeling a bit yucky for a day post-vaccine happens, this is your immune system doing exactly what it was designed to do, and is far better than the symptoms you’d experience if you caught the flu itself. Note that you aren’t immediately protected when you get the shot; it takes around two weeks for the antibodies to kick in.

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Myth #3: The Flu Shot Increases Your Risk of Getting COVID-19

There is zero evidence that getting the flu shot leaves you more susceptible to COVID-19. This rumor likely started as a result of a study published in the January 2020 edition of Vaccine, which seemed to find a link between the flu vaccine and four types of common coronaviruses (although not COVID-19 itself). But regardless, multiple additional studies were unable to replicate these results. In fact, a study published in the October 2020 edition of “Clinical Infectious Diseases” found no link at all. The truth is, the flu shot neither increases or decreases the odds of contracting COVID-19.

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Myth #4: Once Flu Season Starts, You’ve Missed the Deadline For Getting the Vaccine

According to the Center for Disease Control, the best time to get your flu shot is around the end of October. This gives you a chance to develop immunity before the flu begins to make the rounds amongst your community. However, this doesn’t mean any particular deadline has passed. During flu season when the virus is spreading, there’s never truly a “bad” time to get vaccinated. In fact, in March 2020 the flu virus was still going relatively strong, which is not typical, but just goes to show that it’s still a good idea to get the shot whether it’s October or January.

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Myth #5: It’s Healthier to Catch the Flu and Allow Your Immune System Do Its Job

Getting the flu is never something we should want. Although mortality rates are low, the symptoms can nonetheless be severe and you could be out of commission for as long as 10 days. In worst-case scenarios, it could develop into pneumonia or even cause inflammation of the heart or brain. No matter what the Karen across the street says, vaccines don’t weaken your immune system or disrupt it in any way. In fact, the opposite is true: a flu shot is like a hack. It stimulates the immune system and allows it to do its job without you actually getting the flu itself.

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Myth #6: Young, Healthy People Do Not Need to Worry About the Flu

Although there is truth to the notion that the flu can be especially dangerous when young children or elderly people catch it, the reality is that literally anybody can get severely sick, hospitalized, or even die, and that includes the healthiest among us. Another thing to note is that by getting the flu vaccine yourself, you are decreasing the odds that those around you will catch the virus. This is known as herd immunity, a concept many of you likely familiarized yourself with during the initial outbreak of COVID-19. If the vaccine prevents you from getting the flu, it stands to reason that the elderly woman sitting next to you on the bus can’t catch it from you.