Let’s talk about flu shots. This year, bad information about the vaccine has – shall we say - gone viral. Here are the facts behind the 4 biggest flu shot myths:
- True or False: The vaccine can give you the flu. False. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Dennis Cunningham says the vaccine is made from viral proteins - not the whole virus. So, you can’t possibly get sick from it. You might get a mild reaction after your shot – like a sore arm - but it isn’t the flu. If you get sick after a shot – you were infected before you got the shot. Because it takes a couple weeks for the vaccine to kick in.
- True or False: The vaccine’s not safe for pregnant women or babies. False. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists actually advises pregnant women to get a flu shot. That’s because getting the flu doubles the risk of premature birth. And since the flu can be deadly for children, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccination for all kids over 6-months-old.
- True or False: The flu vaccine contains mercury. False. A compound called ethylmercury is added to multi-dose bottles of the vaccine as a preservative. But the Centers for Disease Control say that tests have proven that it’s completely safe, and the compound doesn’t stay in the body. But if you still have your doubts, ask your doctor to use a single dose container, which doesn’t contain the preservative.
- True or False: The flu isn’t a serious disease. That’s absolutely False. 1 in 200 people with the flu end up in the hospital. And 1-out-of-800 of them die.