Flu shot myths result in avoidable illness

Dec. 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM
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CHICAGO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials advise everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine, but a physician says flu shot myths persist resulting in needless illness.

"Loyola documented several cases of the flu before Thanksgiving and we now have confirmed more than 27 cases of patients with the flu which is early to start and also a high number," Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System near Chicago. "If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, put it at the top of your to do list and get it now."

Parada said the seasonal flu myths are false. For example, many people say: "I got the flu already so I don't need a flu shot."

"Typically there are three strains of flu that circulate during the flu season and the flu vaccine protects against all three," Parada said. "So, even if you've had the flu, get your flu shot so you do not get the flu a couple of more times."

People also say: "It's too late; the flu is already here."

"The flu season usually peaks in early February and lasts well into April, so it is not too late to get a flu shot," Parada said.

Perhaps the most common flu vaccine myth is: "The flu shot makes you sick."

"It takes about two weeks to build immunity after receiving the flu shot, so if you catch the flu around the time of your flu shot it wasn't because the vaccine gave it to you. Rather it was because you caught the flu before the vaccine had time to kick in and protect you," Parada said. "I have been an infectious disease specialist for more than 25 years and I have never seen evidence of anyone catching the flu from the flu shot."

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