10 Misconceptions About the Flu Shot

Flu Shot

Photographer: Ambro

It’s that time of year…flu time. Good-bye St. Nick, hello Influenza!   

With the pesky virus making its way across Canada, it’s a good time to look into the vaccination.   

I found a handy little pamphlet at the doctor’s office this week. It came armed with 10 rebuttals to 10 common misconceptions about the flu vaccine:   

“It’s just a little flu. No need to worry.”   

Fact: 4,000 to 8,000 people die from the flu or complications each year in Canada.   

“I don’t need the flu shot, I never get sick!”   

Fact: One in four Canadians is infected with the flu each year. You can be a carrier of the virus without experiencing symptoms. If you’re carrying it you can pass it on.   

“The flu vaccine doesn’t work.”   

Fact: 10 – 15 % of those vaccinated will not develop the immunity to the flu, but it will help to lessen the severity.   

“The flu shot can give you the flu.”   

Fact: The vaccine actually only contains a dead form of the virus and it cannot cause infection.   

“I got the flu shot last year. I don’t need it this year.”   

Fact: The flu virus changes from year to year so a new vaccine is created by researches.   

“The flu vaccine often causes serious side effects.”   

Fact: There are risks associated with the flu vaccine, just like there are risks with all medicines. The risk is actually very low and most only suffer from fever, fatigue and muscle aches; these usually only last 48 hours.   

The greater risk often talked about is an autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).Your chance of developing GBS from the flu shot is one in a million and most patients suffering from this illness usually fully recover.   

“The flu vaccine is dangerous because it contains mercury!”   

Fact: The flu vaccine, like all other vaccines, goes through safety requirement testing. These requirements are strict and each lot is safety-tested by the manufacturer and by Health Canada.   

The vaccine does include a preservative called thimersol which has a small amount of mercury. It is said that the amount of mercury found in thimersol is so small that it does not build up in the body, and is a lot less toxic than other forms of mercury.Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization says that there is no reason to avoid the flu vaccine.   

“I’m just too busy to get the flu shot. It’s so inconvenient.”   

Fact: There are many flu shot clinics open across the country. You can also arrange to have a clinic come to your workplace, or make an appointment with your doctor.   

“It’s too late to get the flu shot now, the flu season is almost over.”   

Fact: The Canadian flu season runs from November to April. Even though the best time to get the vaccine is between October and December, receiving it at any point in the season can help protect you against the virus.   

“I did some research online, and I just don’t trust the flu shot.”   

Fact: We all know that we can’t always trust the information we find online. To identify a trustworthy site be sure that it contains:   

  • Author/company’s name
  • Author/organization’s perspective
  • Solid evidence is provided
  • Lots of detail and original content
  • Up-to-date information
  • Revision date clearly stated
  • Author’s interest in sharing content
  • No bias or conflict of interest
  • A balanced perspective
  • A clear statement that health information should not substitute visiting a health care professional

We have chosen to vaccinate little S again this year. Last year we fell victim to the media frenzy surrounding H1N1 and decided after much research to protect her. With a family history of Asthma and the number of ER visits we’ve already made in S’s short lifetime for respiratory problems, we can’t be too careful.   

Have you received the flu shot this season? Have you vaccinated your children? What are your thoughts on vaccines?   

*Note: this health information should not be taken as health advice or a substitute for visiting a health professional.  Information gathered from 10 Things “They” Say About the Flu Vaccine…and 10 Reasons Why They’re Wrong pamphlet.

City Mom