Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Getting the Flu Vaccine
We may be in the last days of summer, but flu season is just around the corner. The flu is more than just a bad cold, it can be deadly. Yet some Veterans are reluctant to get the flu vaccine because of myths about the flu shot. It is important to have accurate information about the flu vaccine, and not let myths keep you from staying healthy.
Myth #1 – “I can get the flu from the flu shot”
Fact: The flu shot cannot cause the flu illness. The most common side effect from the flu shot is some soreness where the shot was given. It is not possible to get the flu from the nasal spray vaccine either.
Myth #2 – “It is better to get the flu than the flu vaccine”
Fact: Not true! Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. The flu can cause serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among healthy people. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness.
Myth #3 – “I don’t need to get the flu shot every year”
Fact: Even if the virus causing flu hasn’t changed, a person’s immune protection from the vaccine goes down over time. So getting the vaccination each year is your best protection against getting the flu.
Myth #4 – “People can have serious reactions to the flu vaccine”
Fact: Serious allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination and effective treatments are available.
Myth #5 – “The flu vaccine doesn’t really work. I got sick even with the shot”
Fact: The flu vaccine lowers your chance of getting the flu. The flu vaccine only protects against flu viruses.
People can still get sick from cold viruses. If a person does get the flu after the vaccine, it may be that they were already exposed to the virus before developing an immune response. Sometimes a new flu virus might start to spread that is not a good match for the vaccine. Still, flu vaccination may make your illness milder if you do get sick. Getting the vaccine is the safest bet!
For more information about the protecting yourself from the flu, visit http://www.vaccines.gov/diseases/flu/ or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.htm .
Talk with your Truman VA provider about any concerns and/or questions you have about the flu vaccine.