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A Shot at Prevention


Each year as much as 20 percent of the U.S. population gets influenza, tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illness. Yet only about 40 percent of Americans get a flu vaccine annually.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older gets the influenza vaccine each year. Not convinced? Shira Doron, MD, Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, debunks the most common myths:

MYTH: The flu shot gives me the flu.

FACT: The influenza vaccine is produced with inactivated virus. It cannot give someone the flu. Those who get sick right after receiving the shot were going to become ill regardless.

MYTH: I’m healthy, so I don’t need the vaccine.

FACT: While it’s true that babies, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to be impacted by the complications of the illness, the flu can hit anyone. Getting a flu shot also will keep you from spreading the disease to others who may be more susceptible to illness. The Centers for Disease Control suggests everyone get the flu shot every year. Influenza can lead to death in healthy normal individuals and getting the vaccine may help prevent the complications of influenza.

A graphic showing a person dealing with the flu.

MYTH: I can wait until flu season hits to get the vaccine.

FACT: While flu activity tends to peak between December and February, the flu can appear as early as October. Since it takes two weeks after vaccination for your body to become protected, you should get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available.

MYTH: I’m pregnant and the influenza vaccine is not safe for me or my baby.

FACT: The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women receive the flu shot to protect themselves and their babies from the flu and its complications. Pregnant women are at an especially high risk of complications should they get the flu.