8 *BUSTED* Myths About Flu Vaccines

Posted on December 6, 2011

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There is a lot of information about flu vaccines and the effects it has on the human body.  Most of the information regarding flu vaccines is true and factual, and is often disseminated through publications and fact sheets authored by members of such organizations as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the national office of Health and Human Services. 

 However, there are still misconceptions about the flu vaccine.  This post will offer another avenue for correct information that keeps Boston healthy and happy.

 

Myth 1: Flu shots can cause the flu

All vaccines contain an inactive sample of the virus it’s meant to fight. The same is true for the flu vaccine.  The body recognizes these inactive flu viruses and makes antibodies to destroy them.  When an active flu virus is present in the body, the body already has stored antibodies that can and will attack the flu virus.

 Myth 2: Flu shots can cause autism
This myth has gained considerable notoriety as GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann recited this misconception.  The flu vaccine contains thimerosal, a preservative that has mercury.  Thimerosal has been linked to many health problems, including autism.  However, health and medical professionals agree that a small exposure to thimerosal will cause no more harm than some minor red irritation at the injection area.

 Myth 3: Flu shots received late in the flu season are ineffective at preventing the flu

Some people believe that getting a flu shot after November is pointless.  However, it is never too late to start protecting yourself.  Although it is recommended that one gets a flu shot early in the season, for ample protection time.  The flu season typically lasts as long as the winter season.  Especially in Boston, residents can expect exposure to the flu until late February or even early March.

 Myth 4: Flu shots protect for many years

Unlike most vaccines, the flu shot should be given annually.  Every year the flu virus changes and new vaccines are needed so the body can continue to protect against the flu.

Myth 5: Babies should get flu shots

Although babies under the age of 6 months are at risk of catching the flu, it is not recommended that infants under 6 months get a flu shot.  Instead, parents and other members of the family should get vaccinated and lessen the risk of passing the flu to their infant children.

 Myth 6: Any and everyone should get a flu shot

Those who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs should not get the flu vaccine.  Also, those people who have allergies to any of the other substances in the vaccine should talk to a health professional about whether or not the vaccine is a healthy choice for them.   Those people who have had bad reactions to the vaccine in the past should forgo the vaccine now, too.

 Myth 7: One flu shot in the season is not enough

One flu shot per flu season is enough to protect an adult against the flu.  Only kids 6 months to eight years old who have no previous history of getting the flu shot, should get a second at least four weeks after the first dose.

Myth 8: The flu shot is the only option

There is also the nasal spray that protects against the flu virus.  The spray is for healthy people age 2-49 who are not pregnant.

 

  A lot of this information was pulled from CBS News and their article 12 Vaccination Myths Busted.

 If you or someone you know needs a flu vaccine, then visit the www.bphc.org for a list of free public flu clinics in the Boston area.  As always, you are welcome to call the MHL at 617-534-5050.

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