Myth #1: You should fear Ebola more than the flu.
Fact: Flu kills more people in a year in the U.S. than Ebola has killed in the history of the world.
Myth #2: You don’t need the flu vaccine this year if you got it last year.
Fact: You need a new flu shot each year because the circulating strains change and immunity from the vaccine fades.
Myth #3: The flu shot is a “one size fits all” approach that doesn’t make sense for everyone.
Fact: You have many flu vaccine options, such as the shot, including egg-free versions, and a nasal spray.
Myth #4: The flu shot makes some people able to only walk backward.
Fact: The condition of a young woman who could apparently only walk backward after getting a flu shot was found to be psychological, not neurological.
Myth #5: Deaths from the flu are exaggerated.
Fact: Thousands of people die from flu in the U.S. in a typical year, including more than 20,000 in the 2006-2007 season.
Myth #6: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
Fact: The flu shot can’t give you the flu because the virus it contains has been inactivated or severely weakened.
Myth #7: Flu vaccines contain dangerous ingredients, such as mercury, formaldehyde and antifreeze.
Fact: Flu shot ingredients are safe, but people with allergies to ingredients in some vaccines, such as gelatin, should avoid vaccines with those ingredients.
Myth #8: Pregnant women shouldn’t get the flu vaccine.
Fact: Because influenza can cause miscarriages, pregnant women should get vaccinated against flu to lower the miscarriage risk.
Myth #9: Flu vaccines can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Fact: There is no link between flu vaccination and Alzheimer’s; flu vaccines protect older adults who are at increased risk for flu-related health consequences.
Myth #10: Pharmaceutical companies make a massive profit off flu vaccines.
Fact: They’re a tiny source of profit and are made by only a handful of companies.
Myth #11: Flu vaccines don’t work.
Fact: Flu vaccines reduce the risk of flu, though their effectiveness in any particular year varies.
Myth #12: Flu vaccines don’t work for children.
Fact: Flu vaccines effectively reduce the risk of flu for children ages 6 months and up.
Myth #13: Flu vaccines make it easier for people to catch pneumonia or other infectious diseases.
Fact: Flu vaccines reduce the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses or complications from the flu.
Myth #14: Flu vaccines cause heart problems and strokes.
Fact: Flu shots reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.
Myth #15: Flu vaccines can damage a protective barrier between the blood and the brain in young children, hindering their development.
Fact: Flu vaccines have been found safe for children 6 months and older.
Myth #16: Flu vaccines cause narcolepsy.
Fact: A European vaccine against the swine flu in 2009 was linked to narcolepsy, but the U.S. seasonal flu vaccine does not cause narcolepsy.
Myth #17: The flu vaccine weakens your body’s immune response.
Fact: The flu vaccine prepares your immune system to fight influenza by stimulating antibody production.
Myth #18: The flu vaccine causes nerve disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Fact: Only the 1976 swine flu vaccine was linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, and influenza is more likely to cause the nerve disorder than the flu vaccine; the CDC says those with the Guillain-Barré should consult a doctor before getting the flu shot.
Myth #19: The flu vaccine can cause neurological disorders.
Fact: Neurological side effects linked to flu vaccination are extremely rare (see Myth #18); children with neurological disorders are actually at the highest risk for flu complications.
Myth #20: Influenza isn’t that bad. Or, people recover quickly from it.
Fact: Influenza can cause fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches and a sore throat for one to two weeks.
Myth #21: People don’t die from the flu unless they have another underlying condition already.
Fact: Otherwise healthy people do die from the flu. The elderly and young children are most vulnerable.
Myth #22: People with egg allergies can’t get vaccinated against flu.
Fact: People with egg allergies can get a flu shot but should consult their doctor or allergist on options if their allergy is severe.
Myth #23: If I get the flu, antibiotics will help me get better.
Fact: Antibiotics can’t treat a viral infection.
Myth #24: The flu shot doesn’t work for me, personally, because last time I got it, I got the flu anyway.
Fact: The flu shot cannot offer 100 percent protection against the flu, but it reduces your risk of getting it. Many people mistake symptoms from colds and other illnesses for the flu.
Myth #25: I never get the flu, so I don’t need the shot.
Fact: You can’t predict whether you’ll get the flu.
Myth #26: I can protect myself from the flu by eating right and washing my hands regularly.
Fact: A good diet and good hygiene are healthful habits that reduce the risk of illness but cannot prevent the flu on their own.
Myth #27: It’s OK if I get the flu because it will make my immune system stronger.
Fact: Even if the flu in a future season resembles a strain you’ve had before, the protection is likely to be incomplete and fades over time. Flu weakens your immune system while your body is fighting it and puts others at risk.
Myth #28: If I do get the flu, I’ll just stay home so I’m not infecting others.
Fact: You can transmit the flu without showing symptoms.
Myth #29: Making a new vaccine each year only makes influenza strains stronger.
Fact: There’s no evidence flu vaccines have a major effect on virus mutations.
Myth #30: The side effects of the flu shot are worse than the flu.
Fact: The most common side effects of the flu shot are mild, such as headache, fatigue, cough, low fever and arm soreness lasting a couple of days. Fewer than one in a million people experience severe allergic reactions.
Myth #31: The “stomach flu” is the flu.
Fact: The stomach flu refers to a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses unrelated to influenza.
Myth #32: If you haven’t gotten a flu shot by November, there’s no point in getting one.
Fact: Getting the flu shot any time during flu season will reduce your risk of getting the flu.