No, you can’t get the flu from the flu shot.
It’s that myth and more that keep the percentage of Americans who get the flu shot around 46 percent, according to Centers for Disease Control data from 2013. For adults between the ages of 18 to 64, the percentage is more like 34.
The CDC is doing all it can to convince people that the flu vaccine is safe and a useful tool against a truly terrible disease. But the myths live on.
Here are the CDC’s responses to some of the most common myths:
• You won’t get sick from the flu shot. Depending on the form of vaccine you get, it is made from weakened or deactivated viruses (which are NOT infectious), or no viruses at all, according to the CDC. They don’t care which vaccine you get, as long as you get one.
• Pregnant women can get the vaccine. There are very few people who the CDC recommends do not get the vaccine.
• Even though November and December are later than the CDC recommends, it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated after Thanksgiving. It’s not too late, as flu season can vary in length and extend into the spring.
• You do need a flu shot every year. It’s not like other vaccines in that sense.
There are plenty more.
It’s true that the flu shot this year is less effective than in previous years because the virus has mutated — but the CDC is still recommending people get it because if you get the strain that mutated your symptoms will be less severe, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Why do all these myths live on?
Some researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Exeter in the U.K. found that a staggering amount of Americans believe the flu vaccine can cause the flu itself: 43 percent said that was somewhat or very accurate, according to the study,
which was released Monday.
The researchers corrected this misperception in the study participants, and found that people who were corrected were less likely to believe that the flu vaccine can cause the flu. But here’s the kicker: for people who had strong concerns about the vaccine’s side-effects, being corrected actually made them less likely to get the shot.
So people who are dead-set against getting the flu shot because of worries about it making them sick actually move farther away from getting the vaccine when they’re told their worries are unfounded.