Flu Vaccine Facts & Myths

Myth: The flu isn't a serious disease.

Influenza 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 less than two years old are as likely as those over 65 to go to the hospital because of the flu.

Myth: The flu shot can cause the flu.

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 does not work.

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 80 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.

The worst side effect you are likely to get from the 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 one in four million.

Myth: Only older people need a flu vaccine.

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

Myth: You must get the flu vaccine before December.

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.

For more information call your health care provider, dial 2-1-1 toll free in Vermont, or contact the Health Department at vdhco@state.vt.us.

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