Healthy Living: Flu shot myth busting

Updated: Nov. 14, 2017 at 10:06 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As we enter the height of flu season, we are all undoubtedly inundated with reminders about the importance of getting a flu vaccine shot. While flu shots have become common practice and have been a truly life-saving innovation of modern medicine, there are still some people who are hesitant about receiving the vaccine due to some misconceptions.

When considering a flu vaccine, it's important to separate the fact from the fiction. Dr. Sonia Alencherry with Ochsner Health System and St. Charles Parish Hospital shares a few common myths associated with flu vaccines and the facts to bust them.

Myth: I Will Catch the Flu by Receiving a Flu Shot

This is the myth that seems to be most commonly spread. The flu vaccine cannot infect its recipient because it is made up of dead or inactive strands of the flu virus.  Some people may get sick after receiving their flu shot but, in these cases, these people already had the virus in them before their vaccination. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine's protection to take hold so there is a period of time where a shot recipient can still get sick after receiving the vaccine. This doesn't mean that they vaccine caused the virus.

It is also possible to get muscle aches or low grade fevers not only because you might have contracted the flu prior to receiving the vaccine, but because of your body's immune response to a foreign substance entering the body.

Myth: Young and Healthy People Do Not Need a Flu Shot

Though the flu is most common in very young and very old people, in addition to those with pre-existing health issues; all people, no matter how young, old or healthy, are susceptible to the virus. In addition to protecting themselves from the virus, by receiving the vaccine, healthy people are protecting those around them whose immune systems are more at risk.

Myth: Pregnant Women Should Not Get a Flu Shot

Not only should all pregnant women get the flu shot as early as possible to protect themselves, but the vaccine will also protect their baby for the early months of their life when they are not able to receive a shot of their own. The adverse symptoms of the flu, including fever and infection, can also cause potentially serious complications during pregnancy, making receiving the vaccine a must-do for all pregnant women.

Myth: I Don't Need to Get a Flu Shot Every Year

The flu is a constantly evolving virus that can mutate in form from year-to-year. Considering this, it is important to receive a flu shot every year as the vaccine is updated as the virus changes to provide optimal protection against the flu.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the flu shot, be sure to contact your primary healthcare provider.

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