Are you putting off getting the flu shot due to rumors about how it can impact your health? Michelle Heine, an infection control manager for UnityPoint Health, debunks five commons myths about the flu shots, so you’re ready to roll up your sleeve.
Can I get the Flu Shot if I’m Pregnant?
“Yes, you should!” Heine says. “The vaccination will protect mom during and after pregnancy and will also protect the baby after birth.”
The influenza vaccine should be given to all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, are in the postpartum period or are breastfeeding during the flu season. Heine says the mother’s immune response (making antibodies to the virus) is passed onto the baby in the final stages of pregnancy and protects newborns who are too young to get vaccinate.
“A double win — mom is protected, and baby is protected,” Heine says
Are the Additives in the Flu Vaccine Safe?
Thimerosal is a preservative used in some flu vaccines. It’s only used in multi-dose vaccines to prevent germs from contaminating the vaccine. Heine says some people worry thimerosal isn’t safe because it contains mercury.
“Not all types of mercury are the same. Some types of mercury, like mercury in some kinds of fish, stay in the human body and can make people sick. Thimerosal in vaccines, like the flu shot, is a different kind of mercury. It doesn’t stay in the body and has never been shown to cause health problems,” Heine says.
She adds there’s no link between thimerosal and autism.
Can I Get the Flu Shot if I’m Allergic to Eggs?
Heine says people with egg allergies are OK to get the flu shot and don’t have to be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. However, anyone with a severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting – like a clinic – and be supervised by a healthcare provider who’s able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.
Can the Flu Shot Make Me Sick?
The flu shot doesn’t cause the influenza virus. Heine says the shot isn’t a live virus vaccine, and it can’t replicate in the body.
“In most cases, the only side effect of the flu shot is a sore arm at the injection site. The flu shot can cause mild side effects, which are sometimes mistaken for flu. In rare situations, people have reported fever, muscle pain and weakness after getting the flu shot. If experienced at all, these effects only usually last a day or two after vaccination and are much less severe than actual flu illness,” Heine says.
Can I Get the Flu if I Got a Flu Shot?
Unfortunately, it’s still a possibility to get the flu virus even if you get vaccinated. Heine says the flu vaccine effectiveness depends on various factors, including the age and health status of the person and the similarity, or “match,” of the viruses used to make the vaccine to those circulating in the community. It’s important to remember even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people from flu-related complications.
“Remember, when you get immunized, you’re not only protecting yourself, but you’re also protecting your family and the people around you who cannot get the shot,” Heine says.
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