First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Flu Vaccine Myths
Many people choose not to have the influenza vaccine because of myths they believe about the disease or the vaccine.
Myth: Influenza is a minor illness.
Truth: Influenza and its complications caused from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year from 1976 to 2006 in the United States.footnote 1
Myth: The vaccine causes the flu.
Truth: You can't get the flu by having a flu shot. The flu shot is made of killed virus and therefore cannot cause the flu. And the weakened viruses in the flu nasal spray vaccine can cause symptoms similar to a cold, but they can't cause the flu.
Myth: The vaccine causes unpleasant side effects.
Truth: The vaccine causes no side effects in most people. Earlier vaccines (1940s to 1960s) did have more unpleasant side effects, but this is rare now. And an intradermal flu shot is available. A smaller needle is used, and the vaccine is injected into the skin instead of the muscle to reduce discomfort at the time of the shot.
Myth: The vaccine is ineffective because some people had a flu-like illness after getting a flu vaccine.
Truth: Although getting the vaccine prevents most people from becoming ill with the flu, some people still become infected. This may occur because a person is exposed to the virus before getting a vaccination or before it has taken effect, or because the vaccine does not match the circulating virus closely enough. A mild illness similar to a cold also can be caused by the live, weakened viruses in the influenza nasal spray vaccine. But any illness is usually milder than it would be without having had the vaccine.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2012). Key facts about influenza (flu) and flu vaccine. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm#howserious.
Current as of: June 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineChristine Hahn MD - Epidemiology
Current as of:
June 9, 2019
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Christine Hahn MD - Epidemiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
115 Kildaire Park Drive
Cary, NC 27518
781 Avent Ferry Road
REX Healthcare of Holly Springs, Suite 200
Holly Springs, NC 27540
4414 Lake Boone Trail
Raleigh, NC 27607
11081 Forest Pines Drive
Raleigh, NC 27614
UNC REX Healthcare4420 Lake Boone TrailRaleigh, NC 27607, USA919-784-3100
Chosen for Excellence
Co-Worker & Physician Login
UNC Health Talk
Copyright 2020 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.