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Don't buy these 7 myths about flu shots

A man in a face mask rolls up his sleeve.

Oct. 25, 2021—According to the American Heart Association, 60% of Americans say they may skip or delay a flu shot this year. Why so much reluctance now? It may have something to do with a few old and new myths about flu shots. Here are a few facts to set the record straight:

Myth: The flu isn't serious.

Fact: Influenza is often among the top 10 causes of death in the United States. The flu can cause complications like:

  • Asthma attacks.
  • Heart, brain or muscle inflammation.
  • Multi-organ failure.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Sinus and ear infections.
  • Worsening of existing medical conditions.

Getting a flu shot can prevent death, hospitalization and serious complications from the flu.

Myth: I don't need a flu shot if I'm not at high risk for flu complications.

Fact: Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu shot. Indeed, pregnant women, young children, adults over 65 and people with chronic medical conditions are most susceptible to the flu. But even healthy adults can face serious complications.

Beyond protecting yourself, getting a flu shot may also protect at-risk people who aren't able to get vaccinated, like babies younger than 6 months old.

Myth: Flu shots don't work very well.

Fact: Flu shots prevent millions of influenza-related illnesses each year. They reduce the overall number of medical visits, hospitalizations and deaths each flu season.

Myth: The flu shot can give you the flu.

Fact: The flu shot won't give you the flu. When you get a flu shot, you are being given inactive or weakened viruses that cannot make you sick.

Myth: The upcoming flu season is expected to be mild.

Fact: Relaxed COVID-19 restrictions may make this flu season worse than last year's. You can protect yourself by getting vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19. And keep using prevention strategies like masking up when needed, washing your hands and avoiding crowds.

Myth: A COVID-19 shot will protect me from the flu.

Fact: The flu shot only protects against the flu. And the COVID-19 shot only protects against COVID-19. They are different vaccines for different viruses. You need both.

Myth: You can't get the flu shot and a COVID-19 shot at the same time.

Fact: It's fine to get both vaccines at the same visit. If you haven't yet received a COVID-19 vaccine or are eligible for a booster shot, you can get it at the same time as your flu shot.

It's safe to do so, and many doctors' offices, pharmacies and clinics offer both.

For the best protection this flu season, get vaccinated against the flu by the end of October and encourage others to do the same. To learn more, visit our Flu health topic center.

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