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The other day I wrote about a nurse who refused to get the flu shot and was fired for violating the hospital's requirement that she do so. Although that nurse has a right to refuse the shot, there are a lot of myths surrounding the flu shot that may prevent people from getting it. Ultimately, the flu shot can be a great preventative measure, especially since the Centers for Disease Control reports that the flu has now become an epidemic.

  1. The flu shot can give you the flu. Not true, says the CDC. The viruses in the flu shot are killed in the course of production, which means a shot cannot give you the infection. Some people do report soreness at the injection site, and in rare instances, fever, muscle pain, discomfort or weakness. Also, it takes two weeks for the shot to take effect, which means you are vulnerable during that time period.
  2. It is better to get the shot later on in the flu season so that its effects won't wane. This isn't true either, since the flu shot will last the entire season. The CDC recommends that all people older than 6 months get the shot.
  3. The flu shot may harm the baby during pregnancy. Wrong–the flu shot is a vital part of prenatal care and is recommended for all pregnant women by the American Pregnancy Association. In fact, pregnant women are more vulnerable to flu complications.
  4. I've had the flu before, and survived it, so it's no big deal if I get it again. This isn't true either. Viruses that circulate during one year may be different than those that do the next year. Also, people's responses vary from year to year, meaning you may get sicker than you did the year before.
  5. The flu shot doesn't work. The flu shot is shown to work in 60% of all age groups based on data from 2011-2012, and previous year's data shows effectiveness up to 90%.

Considering that the CDC reported 7.3% of deaths last week were caused by the flu alone, it may be worth considering getting the flu shot this year. Plus, the flu is hitting a lot earlier than usual this year, making it all the more urgent to seriously consider getting the shot to protect yourself and your family.


  1. Gravatar for Alexandra

    Flu shots coming from multi-dose vials (the majority of available doses) contain either 24.5 or 25 mcg mercury per dose, according to the package inserts.

    This is not a myth. It is right there in the package inserts.

    I'll quote from the 2011 Afluria package insert, page 13.

    "The multi-dose presentation contains thimerosal, added as a preservative; each 0.5 mL dose contains 24.5 mcg of mercury."

    I'll also quote from the 2011 Flulaval package insert, page 8.

    "Thimerosal, a mercury derivative, is added as a preservative. Each dose contains 25 mcg mercury."

  2. Gravatar for Alexandra

    I forgot to mention that if a multi-dose vaccine vial is not shaken thoroughly before each use, the mercury (a heavy metal) settles to the bottom of the vial. This is better for the people getting the first few doses from the vial, but greatly increases the mercury exposure for the unfortunate people getting the last few doses.

  3. Gravatar for Sarah

    The flu actually only kills a few hundred people a year. Look at a National Vital Statistics report.In 2006, 849 people died in the US from influenza. In 2007, the number was 411. Check out the reports straight from the CDC.

  4. Gravatar for Vern Dennis

    I have had a flu shot 39 out of the last 40 years . Not coincidentally, the only year I came down with a bad case of the flu was the one year I forgot to get the shot - I was very sick for two weeks

    This is not to say that the shot confers complete immunity on the recipient, but it certainly will lessen the severity of the flu if one does get a case of the flu

    Flu can be a killer - ge the shot - it could be the $25 that saves your life !

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