There has been a large amount of research undertaken to investigate common concerns raised about the influenza vaccine over the years. Some common myths are addressed below.
Flu Fats & Myths
Myth: The flu vaccine gives you the flu +
Reality: You definitely cannot get the influenza from having the flu shot. The flu vaccine contains no live flu virus at all - it's actually a small dose of parts of inactivated flu virus. However, a small number of people might experience flu-like symptoms such as fever and tiredness as a result of the vaccination.
Myth: The flu vaccine is expensive +
Reality: It's important to weigh up the cost of being ill and away from work or school, compared with the cost of vaccination.
Myth: The vaccine doesn't work because I got vaccinated last year and still got the flu +
Reality: There are many illnesses that can cause flu-like symptoms, and the influenza vaccine does not protect against these. As the vaccine takes up to 14 days to take effect, it is possible to catch the influenza virus before, or just after, you are vaccinated. If you are vaccinated when you contract influenza, your illness is usually much less severe.
Myth: It is not necessary to get immunized against influenza every year because protection lasts from previous vaccinations +
Reality: There are many different strains of influenza and one vaccine cannot guard against them all. The influenza vaccine only guards against the most common strains of the virus expected to occur in Australia that year. Because strains may change, you need to be vaccinated each year to be protected against new strains. In addition, the flu vaccine only provides protection for around twelve months.
Myth: Getting an influenza shot every year weakens your immune system +
Reality: The vaccine actually prepares and boosts your immune system to help fight the virus if you are exposed. People who get vaccinated against influenza every year are better protected than those who do not get vaccinated.
Myth: The influenza vaccine causes severe reactions or side effects +
Reality: The influenza vaccine is very safe, and most people experience no side effects. However, possible side effects may include redness or soreness at the injection site, a mild fever, headache and/or aching muscles. These symptoms don't usually last more than a day or two. In the rare event of an immediate allergic reaction, immunisation providers are trained to administer treatment. People allergic to eggs or influenza should not receive influenza vaccine.
Myth: You don't need to be immunised if you've never had influenza +
Reality: The influenza virus has a number of different strains which keep changing, so no one can ever be totally immune. Most people get sick with influenza multiple times over their life, as the virus spreads easily from person to person through breathing, coughing and sneezing.