The seasonal flu is associated with an estimated 54,000 to 430,000 hospitalizations and approximately 3,000 to 49,000 deaths annually in the USA. So anyone who thinks that the flu isn’t a serious disease, needs to look at those numbers again. People die. And not just the old or sick–healthy people and children are killed by the flu. And let’s not forget about more serious pandemics, like H1N1, that can kill many more people.
We’ve all heard the excuses and myths about the flu vaccines. They’re repeated over and over again not only by those who are vaccine deniers, but more often by average people who just refuse to get the vaccine. This week, a fellow blogger and someone whom I’ve gotten to know over the past couple of years, Tara Haelle, spent numerous hours putting together the Top 25 Myths about the flu vaccine, which she published here. Read it. Please.
So, below is her list of 25 myths about the flu vaccine, with links back to her article (and in some cases, to this blog too) that debunk the myth. After you read this, share it with everyone. Your neighbor who won’t get the flu vaccine. Your spouse. Your parents. Your coworker. And one more person–yourself.
- Myth #1: The flu vaccine gives you the flu or makes you sick. (Nope. And nope.)
- Myth #2: Flu vaccines contains dangerous ingredients, such as mercury, formaldehyde and antifreeze. (Not really, besides they aren’t dangerous.)
- Myth #3a: Pregnant women should not get the flu shot. (Nope. They actually should get it.) Myth 3b:The flu shot can cause miscarriages. (Nope. Probably helps.) Myth 3c: Pregnant should only get the preservative-free flu shot. (Uhhhh, nope.)
- Myth #4: Flu vaccines can cause Alzheimer’s disease. (Definitely nope.)
- Myth #5: Flu vaccines provide billions of dollars in profits for pharmaceutical companies. (Possibly, but it doesn’t matter. And Big Pharma will make a lot more in an epidemic.)
- Myth #6: Flu vaccines don’t work. (Unless by “don’t work”, you mean it does work.)
- Myth #7: Flu vaccines don’t work for children. (Except that they do work. And it saves children’s lives.)
- Myth #8: Flu vaccines make it easier for people to catch pneumonia or other infectious diseases. (Except for the science that shows that the vaccines make it harder.)
- Myth #9: Flu vaccines cause vascular or cardiovascular disorders. (Nope. It might actually help prevent it.)
- Myth #10: Flu vaccines can break the “blood brain barrier” of young children and hurt their development. (Bull feces.)
- Myth #11: Flu vaccines cause narcolepsy. (Maybe in the European H1N1 vaccine. But probably not.)
- Myth #12: The flu vaccine weakens your body’s immune response. (It actually strengthens it. In fact, vaccines might be the only thing that boosts the immune system.)
- Myth #13: The flu vaccine causes nerve disorders such as Guillain Barre syndrome. (Nope, And the flu itself is a higher risk factor for the syndrome.)
- Myth #14: The flu vaccine can cause neurological disorders. (No.)
- Myth #15: Influenza isn’t that bad. Or, people recover quickly from it. (No, it’s fairly bad. Seriously, the flu is bad. )
- Myth #16: People don’t die from the flu unless they have another underlying condition already. (Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.)
- Myth #17: People with egg allergies cannot get the flu shot. It will kill them! (No. Besides there’s an egg-free vaccine.)
- Myth #18: If I get the flu, antibiotics will take care of me. (Nope.)
- Myth #19: The flu shot doesn’t work for me, personally, because last time I got it, I got the flu anyway. (Even if true, it still reduces your risk.)
- Myth #20: I never get the flu, so I don’t need the shot. (Unless you can predict the future, nope.)
- Myth #21: I can protect myself from the flu by eating right and washing my hands regularly. (Nope.)
- Myth #22: It’s okay if I get the flu because it will make my immune system stronger. (A complete misunderstanding of the immune system. So, no it doesn’t.)
- Myth #23: Making a new vaccine each year only makes influenza strains stronger. (No way.)
- Myth #24: The side effects of the flu shot are worse than the flu. (Seriously NO.)
- Myth #25: The flu vaccine causes Bell’s palsy. (No.)
So there it is, 25 myths (and 3 sub-myths) that are commonly heard about the flu vaccine. People die from the flu, so unless you’re a serious dumbass about flu vaccinations, it’s time to set aside the myths, ignore the slight sting of the needle jab, and get immunized against the flu.
I really want to thank Tara for this list, one that, as she states, is long overdue. Visit her blog, Red Wine and Apple Sauce. Follow her on Twitter. Like her Facebook page about evidence-based parenting.
One final comment. Isn’t it funny that those of us who think vaccines help people, provide accurate, scientific information, can write a list like this? And the vaccine deniers can only use logical fallacies and cherry picking bad science to make a list of lies? Because vaccines save lives, and we have mountains of evidence supporting it.
If you need to search for accurate information and evidence about vaccines try the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.
- Thompson WW, Shay DK, Weintraub E, Brammer L, Bridges CB, Cox NJ, Fukuda K. Influenza-associated hospitalizations in the United States. JAMA. 2004 Sep 15;292(11):1333-40. PubMed PMID: 15367555.
- Wong KK, Jain S, Blanton L, Dhara R, Brammer L, Fry AM, Finelli L. Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2004–2012. Pediatrics 2013;132:796–804. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1493.