Myths about the flu vaccine

Many people choose not to have the influenza vaccine because of myths they believe about the disease or the vaccine.

Myth: Influenza is a minor illness.

Truth: Influenza and its complications cause about 20,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Myth: The vaccine causes the flu.

Truth: You cannot get the flu by having a flu shot. Influenza vaccine in the U.S. is made of killed virus and therefore cannot cause the flu.

Myth: The vaccine causes unpleasant side effects.

Truth: The vaccine causes no side effects in most people. Earlier vaccines (1940s to 1960s) did, in fact, have more, unpleasant side effects.

Myth: The vaccine is ineffective because some people had a flu-like illness after having the shot.

Truth: Although getting the vaccine prevents most people from becoming ill with the flu, some people still become infected. This may occur because a person is exposed to the virus before getting a vaccination or before it has taken effect, or because the vaccine does not match the circulating virus closely enough. However, the illness is usually milder than it would be without having had the vaccine.

Last Updated: July 31, 2008

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