Get Ready Mailbag: De-bunking flu shot myths

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to

My family talked about the flu over the holidays. I was surprised to learn my aunt didn’t get her flu shot this year. And my brother said he doesn’t need a flu shot because he’s young and healthy. How can I set them straight?

Thanks for asking! The best way to counter misinformation is with the facts. Let’s debunk some of the most common misconceptions related to the flu vaccine.

Myth: The flu shot can give you the flu
The facts: The flu shot is made from inactivated forms of the flu virus. It can’t give you the flu. It’s possible your aunt had side effects like soreness from her vaccination. Or that she caught the flu before her shot took effect, as the vaccine needs about two weeks in your body before it can fully protect you from the flu. But her shot did not give her the flu.

Myth: Healthy people don’t a need flu shot
The facts: Some people are more likely to get the flu than others, including seniors and those with chronic illness. But even healthy people can catch the flu and become sick. Also, people with the flu can spread it to others. So the shot will protect your brother and everyone he interacts with, like your parents and your kids.

Myth: You don’t need a shot every year
The facts: Even if you got your flu vaccination last year, flu viruses are always changing. Scientists update what’s in the flu shot each year to give you the best chances of avoiding the strains that are circulating. Also, flu shot protection wanes over time, meaning last year’s shot doesn’t offer any protection now.

Myth: By this time of year, it’s too late to get a flu shot
The facts: It’s not too late! Flu is occurring around the country right now.Getting the flu shot today can still protect you.

We hope you share these facts with your family members! Find a convenient location to get your flu shot with Healthmap Vaccine Finder. And learn even more about the flu with our Get Ready fact sheet.

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