Should I Get a Flu Shot? 3 Myths Debunked

Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infection. But myths about their safety and efficacy still abound, according to the cohosts of the hit television show "The Doctors." Here, why you shouldn’t skip your flu vaccine.

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Does the flu shot make you sick?

Does the flu shot make you sick? iStock/Thinkstock
One third of the people the folks at "The Doctors" polled believed it can. But it’s a myth. The shot introduces inactivated viruses into your system. Your body’s antibodies mount a response, so if you encounter the flu, your immune system will be better equipped to fight it. This can trigger mild aches, a low fever, and soreness around the injection site for a couple of days. Don’t mistake these for the flu.

Should I delay the vaccine if I’m under the weather?

Should I delay the vaccine if I’m under the weather? iStock/Thinkstock
It’s fine if you have mild respiratory symptoms, like a cough or a runny nose. But if you have a more severe illness, get a flu shot at a later date, as the CDC suggests; the vaccine could be slightly less effective. Plus if you already have flu-like symptoms, you won’t know if they’re due to the vaccine or an actual illness.

I got the vaccine last year and still got the flu. What’s up?

I got the vaccine last year and still got the flu. What’s up?iStock/Thinkstock
The flu strains targeted by a flu vaccine are based on which ones the CDC predicts will be most prevalent in a given year, which is determined months in advance of each flu season. Sometimes the strains that circulate are a good match to those in the vaccine, and sometimes they aren’t. During the years that the match isn’t as close, people are more likely to get sick despite getting vaccinated. But research shows that the vaccine is still about 50 percent effective. And if you are vaccinated and still manage to get sick, you may have a less severe case and recover more quickly.

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