Every influenza season, millions of Americans decide to skip the flu shot based on false information. Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, is one of the world’s leading experts on vaccines and has the facts that stand up to the myths.
Influenza myth No. 1: The flu is like a cold. It will make you feel awful, but it isn’t really harmful.
Fact: “Well, in the U.S. alone, last year 80,000 Americans died from influenza and its complications, and almost a million were hospitalized,” Dr. Poland says.
Myth No. 2: I always get the flu from the flu shot.
Fact: “It is impossible to get influenza from the vaccine,” Dr. Poland says.
He adds that it’s not uncommon for people to coincidentally get an upper respiratory infection in the weeks after getting a flu shot and assume it’s connected. But studies have proven your odds of getting that minor upper respiratory infection from other viruses are identical whether you get the flu shot or not, so you might as well protect yourself from the more serious influenza.
And flu myth No. 3: Science still doesn’t know enough about vaccines to know if they’re safe.
Fact: Dr. Poland says vaccines are among the safest and most studied areas of modern medicine. It takes more study and research to get a vaccine approved than it does for an over-the-counter headache medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.