Flu Vaccine: Facts & Myths

Myth: The flu isn't a serious disease

Fact: Influenza (flu) is a serious disease of the nose, throat and lungs, and it can lead to pneumonia. Each year about 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized, and about 36,000 people die because of the flu. Most who die are 65 years and older. But small children younger than 2 years old are just as likely as those over 65 to have to go to the hospital because of the flu.

Myth: The flu shot can cause the flu

Fact: The flu shot cannot cause the flu. Some people get a little soreness or redness where they get the shot. It goes away in a day or two. Serious problems from the flu shot are very rare.

Myth: The flu shot doesn't work

Fact: Most of the time, the flu shot will prevent the flu. In scientific studies, the effectiveness of the flu shot has ranged from 70 percent to 90 percent when there is a good match between circulating viruses and those in the vaccine. Getting the vaccine is your best protection against this disease.

Myth: The side effects are worse than the flu

Fact: The worst side effect you're likely to get from a shot is a sore arm. The nasal mist flu vaccine might cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and cough. The risk of a severe allergic reaction is less than 1 in 4 million.

Myth: Only older people need a flu vaccine

Fact: Adults and children with conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease need to get a flu shot. Doctors also recommend children 6 months and older get a flu shot every year until their 5th birthday.

Myth: You must get the flu vaccine before December

Fact: Flu vaccine can be given before or during the flu season. The best time to get vaccinated is October or November. But you can get vaccinated in December or later.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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