Can flu shot give you the flu? No — and other misconceptions
Are you nervous or skeptical about flu shots?
A national survey conducted by the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children found about half of parents thought you can get the flu from being vaccinated, a third believed flu shots do not work, many questioned its safety and 30% said efforts to promote flu shots is part of a conspiracy.
Dr. Tina Tan, the New Jersey state epidemiologist, said everyone needs to understand that getting a flu shot cannot give you the flu.
“Flu shots are safe," she said. "Serious reactions to the flu vaccines are really, really rare."
“A lot of times, some people do report having mild reactions to the flu vaccine: pain at the sight of the vaccination, soreness, redness — that type of thing.”
But Tan noted that a flu shot can’t give you influenza because “the vaccine is either made with a killed virus or ... a gene from the flu virus to produce an immune response without causing any sort of infection.”
She said the effectiveness of a flu shot can vary, depending on what flu strains are circulating in the environment, as well as other factors like a person's age and health.
As for misconceptions that flu shots just don’t work, Tan said that “no vaccine is 100% effective but we do know that the vaccine against influenza is definitely the best protection that we have.”
She said another misconception some people may have is that it’s better to get the flu than the flu vaccine.
"That is a myth because we know that flu is a very serious disease, particularly among people who might be at high risk from complications from flu," she said.
That group would include young children, pregnant women, older seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
“Getting a flu infection carries a risk of hospitalization, carries a risk of death, so that’s why we stress the importance of getting the flu vaccine every single year," she said.
Influenza activity in New Jersey is listed as moderate by the state Health Department, with higher levels in North Jersey.
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