As flu season rapidly approaches, doctors across the country are urging parents to get their families vaccinated.
Last year’s 2017-2018 flu season was the deadliest the United States has seen in four decades with over 80,000 flu-related deaths, and more than 900,000 hospital visits.
Despite the deaths of a record 180 children in the U.S. who contracted the flu last year, a new study shows that parents are more likely to forgo the flu shot because of several misconceptions about the vaccine, one being that the flu shot actually gives you the flu.
Flu Shot Myths
Researchers from the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital recently conducted a study to evaluate parents’ attitudes about the flu shot.
“We know that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the flu,” coauthor Jean Moorjani said in a statement. “In this day and age we have so many ways to get information, so if anybody has questions or concerns, we recommend they talk to a doctor they trust to get the right information about what’s best to protect themselves and their families.”
The study surveyed 700 adults in America and found that more than 50 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 believe their child can get the flu from the flu shot.
A third of those surveyed said they believe the shot does not protect against the flu, while 28 percent believe that it can cause autism.
“After extensive studies, we know that the flu vaccine is safe,” Moorjani said. “You cannot get autism from the flu vaccine. It is not a conspiracy for doctors to recommend the flu vaccine. Doctors recommend it because we know — based on science, research and facts — that it is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu vaccine contains strains of the flu virus that have been “inactivated” or killed, meaning it is not infectious, cannot give you the flu virus, but will work to produce an immune response without causing infection.
“The parts of the virus that are used in the vaccine are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” Moorjani assured. “It takes time for your body to get strong and ready for flu season, which is why we recommend everybody get the shot as soon as they can. If you are infected with the flu shortly after getting your flu shot, your body may not be able to fight it off.”
The earlier, the better.
Doctors recommend everyone over the age of six months should get vaccinated before the end of October. Experts say the vaccine can take up to two weeks to reach full effectiveness, and flu season typically kicks into high gear by the beginning of November.
With Halloween just a few weeks away, followed closely by Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday season is stacked full of parties and gatherings where the flu virus and other harmful germs are likely to linger.
Avoiding the flu vaccination puts yourself and your family at risk, and makes it more likely for others to catch the flu.
“As a parent,” Moorjani said, “the flu shot is just another level of protection I can give my kids, and with so many places offering flu shots, it’s really simple.”
The flu shot is not 100% effective. But it can go a long way in protecting yourself and your family this flu season.
If your child does contract the flu, it’s extremely important to take precaution for the protection of others. Be aware of the symptoms, and keep them away from school.
For more information on where you can get the flu shot near you, visit this resource.