Flu Shot Myths

Flu-vaccine-signAs autumn begins in Michigan, we are again preparing for flu season. Every year about this time we begin receiving questions from our residents and their families about the influenza vaccine. Some of our seniors hold tight to the myth that getting a flu shot will give them the flu. Other residents worry the vaccine will run out before they receive their shot. To help sort the facts and the myths about flu shots, we have pulled together a list of the questions we most commonly receive.

Flu Shot Mythbusters for Michigan Seniors

Myth #1: If I get a flu shot I will get the flu.

FACT: This persistent myth just won’t die. Many older adults heard this myth years ago and resisted getting the vaccine because of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection.”

Myth #2: Medicare doesn’t cover a flu vaccine unless it is given in a doctor’s office.

FACT: Another myth. Medicare covers one flu shot per year. If the healthcare provider you choose to receive your shot from accepts Medicare, there is no cost for you to receive the vaccine.

Myth #3: If I get the flu vaccine too early in the fall, I won’t be protected for the entire flu season.

FACT: Not true, say the experts. The vaccine is effective for one full year from the time you receive it. It makes sense to get it early so you are protected from early flu outbreaks. 

Myth #4: You don’t need to get the flu shot every year.

FACT: Unlike vaccines for mumps or measles, the flu shot is an annual vaccine. Because flu strains change from year to year, the vaccine is different from one flu season to the next. You need to get the flu vaccine every fall. 

Myth #5: You can’t spread the flu unless you are sick.

FACT: This is one of the more dangerous myths for staff, families, and residents of senior living communities. It is why it is so important for family members and caregivers to receive flu shots. While you might not be exhibiting any signs of the flu, you may have the virus. According to the experts, 20-30% of those who carry the influenza virus don’t come down with typical flu symptoms. You may unwittingly be spreading the virus everywhere you go in a day.

What myths have you heard about the flu shot?