6 Flu Vaccine Myths
Karen Rowan, MyHealthNewsDaily Managing Editor
Date: 28 October 2012 Time: 03:32 PM ET
Flu season is just around the corner, and it typically stretches through the early spring. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that everyone older than 6 months get their flu shot. During the 2011-2012 flu season, 128 million people in the U.S., or 42 percent of the population, received a flu shot, according to the CDC. That's close to the 43 percent that were vaccinated the previous year. CDC officials estimated flu vaccinations last year prevented 5 million cases of influenza, and 40,000 hospitalizations. But myths and misinformation about the flu are circulating like viruses. Here are the facts about the flu vaccine. Myth: You can get the flu, or a mild case of it, from the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine injection contains no live virus, only viral proteins, said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, an infectious disease specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "It's impossible to get the flu, and it's impossible to spread the flu," from the injection, Cunningham said. After the injection, some people may experience pain in the arm near the injection site, or develop a low fever — this is a reaction to the vaccine, not a true influenza infection, not even a mild one, he said. "People with this reaction are able to go to work, that is not the case with the flu. With an influenza infection, you're flat on your back, you're exhausted, hot and hurt," he said. The flu vaccine that is delivered as a nasal spray, rather than as injection, does contain live viruses, but these viruses have been weakened, and so they also cannot cause the flu, according to the CDC. Myth: The flu vaccine may not be safe for pregnant women or babies. The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women, and for babies older than 6 months, Cunningham said. In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the leading group...