Sometimes confused with the common cold, influenza (flu) is a actually serious illness that can cause symptoms of coughing, fever, and aching for a week or longer. It can lead to pneumonia and make existing health problems worse – like diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
The flu is far more dangerous than a bad cold. Each year, about 114,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and about 20,000 die because of the flu. Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. It also keeps you from bringing the virus home or to work and infecting others.
There are many misconceptions about flu shots:
“Only the elderly, young, and those with weak immune systems need the flu shot.”
Both adults and children who are in good health should get a flu shot. Even if you aren’t at high risk of complications, you should get a shot to help stop the spread of the virus and protect those around you.
“The shot can give you the flu.”
Vaccines cannot give you the flu; they are made from killed influenza viruses.
“The vaccine isn’t 100% effective, so I’m better off getting the flu.”
No vaccine is 100% effective, due to various uncommon strains being present in the population. However, if you get a flu shot but still get the flu, your sickness is likely to be less severe than if you had opted to forgo the shot.
“The side effects are worse than the flu.”
Most people only experience a sore arm. The risk of severe allergic reaction is less than one in four million.