Influenza (flu) is a serious disease that can make you sick for a week or longer with coughing, fever, aching and more. It can lead to pneumonia and make existing health problems worse – like diabetes, asthma and heart disease.
The flu is far more dangerous than a bad cold. It’s a disease of the lungs, and it can lead to pneumonia. Each year, about 114,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and about 20,000 die because of the flu. Most who die are over 65 years old, but small children less than two years old are as likely as those over 65 to have to go to the hospital because of the flu.
Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. It also keeps you from bringing the virus home or to work and infecting others.
Here are some common misconceptions about flu shots:
“The shot can give you the flu.”
Flu vaccines are made from killed influenza viruses. They cannot give you the flu.
“The vaccine isn’t 100% effective, so I’m better off getting the flu.”
No vaccine is 100% effective. However, if you get a flu shot but still get the flu, you are likely to be far less sick than you would have been without the protection.
“The side effects are worse than the flu.”
The worst side effect you’re likely to get is a sore arm. The risk of severe allergic reaction is less than one in four million.
“Only the very old and the very sick need the flu shot.”
Both adults and children who are in good health need a flu shot to stay healthy. Even if you aren’t at high risk of complications, you should get a flu shot to prevent the flu and to protect everyone you live with and contact.