It’s that time of year again when we constantly hear reminders to get our flu shots. But lots of folks out there are still resistant to the idea — with some adamantly refusing to get the shots at all. Recent research may shed some light on why so many people are ignoring the warnings from health officials.
A national survey of 700 parents with kids under 18 by Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital showed that more than half of them believe that the flu shot actually cause the flu. So now, doctors from that hospital — and other medical experts — are publicly speaking out against this common myth.
“The parts of the virus that are used are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” said pediatrician Jean Moorjani, MD, in a press release. “After receiving the shot, it takes your body about two weeks to build up antibodies to fight the flu, so if you come in contact with the virus during that time, you may still get sick, which is why you should get your flu shot as early as possible.”
This simple explanation also shoots down another commonly held belief — that the flu shot “doesn’t work.” (The same survey showed that nearly a third of parents believed in that myth.) That said, doctors do understand why so many parents worry about the flu shot’s effectiveness and safety.
“With any medication or vaccine, people are going to have concerns,” said Dr. Moorjani. “Because information can come from so many places, from friends and family to the internet, it’s important to talk to a doctor you trust to get credible information that is based in science and facts.”
The Mayo Clinic maintains that the flu shot is a person’s “best bet” for avoiding the flu this season. Experts still recommend getting it every year because the viruses can evolve quickly. It’s also worth mentioning that completely new strains of flu viruses can pop up each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So even if you got the shot last year and avoided getting sick, that shot may not be your optimal protection against the flu for this upcoming season.
Additional steps to reduce your risk of getting the flu include: washing your hands often and thoroughly, avoiding crowds when the flu is prevalent in your area, and avoiding touching your nose, eyes, and mouth whenever possible.
Let’s do our part to keep ourselves — and our loved ones — safe this season!