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Medical myth busters

​​​​Myth: Getting the flu vaccine will give you the flu. 

myth bustersThis myth comes around every flu season. The truth is, it's impossible for the flu vaccine to give you the flu. Injected vaccines carry only the dead virus, and if it's dead, it can't infect you.

And the nasal vaccine, which does have a live virus, is scientifically engineered so that it removes the parts of the virus that make you sick.

This myth hangs on for two main reasons: People mistakenly think that a sore arm or achy feeling (common side effects of the vaccine) are flu symptoms. And flu season occurs about the same time of year that people start getting sick with other ailments, such as a cold virus. 

Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

"It takes up to 10 days for the vaccine to protect you after getting vaccinated, so immediate protection is not guaranteed. However, getting the vaccine when it becomes available is a good way to prepare for influenza season," noted Rana Nasser, M.D.​ infectious disease specialist at Marshfield Clinic Marshfield Center.

"The influenza vaccine does not protect against all strains of influenza or the common cold, but is the best protection that can be offered based on expert recommendations. I encourage all my patients and co-workers to get vaccinated."

Vaccines have been shown to reduce hospitalizations from pneumonia or other complications by 27 to 70 percent, and deaths by up to 80 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot each year. It's especially important for those at high risk for serious complications (like pneumonia) if they come down with the flu. This includes:

  • People with certain medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
  • Pregnant women 
  • People 65 years and older
  • Caregivers to those who are chronically ill

Protect your family, yourself, your friends and co-workers by getting your flu shot this fall.