Flu Myths and Facts

Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
Fact: Flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness.
Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.

Myth: I should wait to get vaccinated, so that my immunity lasts through the end of the season.
Fact: The CDC recommends getting vaccinated early in the flu season, so you will be ready.
While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February (although activity can last as late as May). Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated in time to be protected before flu viruses begin spreading in their community.

Myth: I had the "stomach flu" recently, so I’ve already had the flu.
Fact: The flu is a respiratory disease, not a stomach or intestinal disease.
Many people use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or “sick to your stomach” can sometimes be related to the flu — more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza.

Myth: You are only protecting yourself by getting a flu shot.
Fact: Getting vaccinated yourself can also protect people around you.
Some people are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic diseases.  Also, some people are not able to get vaccinated themselves due to allergies or other health conditions.

Myth: I got the flu shot last year, so I don't need it this year.
Fact: The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season.
The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu.
Myth: It’s too late to get vaccinated in November.
Fact: Vaccination can still be beneficial as long as flu viruses are circulating.
Flu is unpredictable and seasons can vary. Seasonal flu disease usually peaks between December and March most years, but disease can occur as late as May.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)