Topic Overview

Many people choose not to have the influenza vaccine because of myths they believe about the disease or the vaccine.

Myth: Influenza is a minor illness.

Truth: Influenza and its complications caused approximately 3,500 deaths each year in Canada.

Myth: The vaccine causes the flu.

Truth: You can't get the flu by having a flu shot. The flu shot is made of killed virus and therefore cannot cause the flu. And the weakened viruses in the flu nasal spray vaccine can cause symptoms similar to a cold, but they can't cause the flu.

Myth: The vaccine causes severe side effects.

Truth: The influenza vaccines are safe. Most people who get the flu shot only have redness, soreness or swelling where the vaccine was given. Some people, especially those who get the flu shot for the first time, may have a headache, muscle aches or tiredness.

Myth: The vaccine is ineffective because some people had a flu-like illness after getting a flu vaccine.

Truth: Although getting the vaccine prevents most people from becoming ill with the flu, some people still become infected. This may occur because a person is exposed to the virus before getting a vaccination or before it has taken effect, or because the vaccine does not match the circulating virus closely enough. A mild illness similar to a cold also can be caused by the live, weakened viruses in the influenza nasal spray vaccine. But any illness is usually milder than it would be without having had the vaccine.

References

Citations

  1. Stevenson CG, et al. (2001). Prevention of influenza and pneumococcal in Canadian long-term care facilities: How are we doing? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 164(10): 1413–1419.

Credits

Adaptation Date: 6/16/2017

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Date: 6/16/2017

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC