During the 2011-2-12 flu season, 128 million people in the U.S., or 42 percent of the population, received a flu shot, according to the CDC. CDC officials estimated flu vaccinations last year prevented 5 million cases of influenza and 40,000 hospitalizations.
Of that remaining 58 percent of the population, some may be unable to get the Flu Vaccine due to allergies or other conditions. However, many don’t get the flu vaccine in response to recurring myths about the vaccine.
Many people believe you can get the flu or a mild case of the flu from the vaccine. The flu vaccine injection contains no live virus, only virus proteins. After injection, some people may experience pain in the arm near the injection site, or develop a low fever. These symptoms are a reaction to the vaccine, not an influenza infection. The nasal spray contains live viruses, but these have been weakened so they cannot case the flu.
Many people believe the flu vaccine may not be safe for pregnant women or babies, but according to the CDC, the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and babies older than 6 months.
Some people believe you don’t need the flu vaccine if you had it last year. The strains of the flu virus circulating change from year to year. And, even if some of the strains from previous years are circulating, immunity that develops after getting the shot wanes by the following year.
Other myths exist, but the bottom line is the flu vaccine saves lives each year.