Flu season is swiftly approaching. It hardly seems possible that the year is half gone, but so it is. With that said, you may be wondering about whether or not you should get the flu vaccine. Questions about its safety and efficacy abound every year. Many people wonder if the vaccine itself has not given them the virus. We have all heard stories of someone or other who swore the only time they ever got the flu was the time they got the shot. Today we are here to talk about that and many other flu vaccine myths and misconceptions.
Can I Get the Flu from the Vaccine?
We will start with one of the most common flu vaccine myths out there. The flu vaccine can’t give people the flu. Any anecdotal evidence from someone who swore they only got sick after the shot misunderstands some key facts about the vaccine.
First, the vaccine contains a dead strain of the virus. Therefore, it cannot infect you. All it does is give information to your body on how to fight the flu. The dead virus causes your immune system to identify and create antibodies against the flu. That way, if your body comes into contact with the virus, your body is already prepared with the information to destroy it.
Additionally, it takes a couple of weeks after receiving the vaccine for your body to fully build up its immunity. The flu itself takes a couple of days from exposure to the onset of symptoms. This is why many people think that the flu shot gave the virus. In reality, they had already been exposed to the flu by the time they got the vaccine.
Is the Flu Just a Bad Cold?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The common cold and the flu share symptoms. They are not caused by the same infection. The common cold comes from rhinovirus, one of the most common viruses that is one of the smallest viral particles we have found at 30 nanometers. The flu comes from influenza, which is much larger at 80-120 nanometers. By comparison, COVID-19, a.k.a. Sars-Cov-2, is only about 100 nanometers. Not only are the particles of each very different, but the level of infection and lethality of each are also very different. So, it is a mistake to think of the flu as just a bad cold.
Do I Need a New Shot Every Year?
Because influenza mutates and different strains are more prevalent each year, it is important to get a new shot every year to ensure that you have the greatest level of protection against the flu. Especially with COVID-19 still hanging around, influenza is a dangerous comorbidity to have should you also be exposed to COVID-19. Therefore, to keep yourself and those you come into contact with protected from the flu, it is best that you get a new shot every year.