CRF Blog

Five myths about this year’s flu

by Bill Hayes

The Washington Post, as part of its Five Myths series, presents Five myths about this year’s flu.

3. The vaccine won’t keep you from getting the flu — and it’s unsafe, anyway.

The flu vaccine is about 62 percent effective in preventing the flu — obviously not perfect. Still, vaccines are matched to this year’s flu strains, particularly the virulent H3N2 causing the worst problems, and are the best way to prevent infection should you be exposed.

Vaccines are also safe. Anti-vaccine advocates such as HBO talk-show host Bill Maher — who said on Twitter in 2009 that people who got swine-flu shots were “idiots” — have falsely suggested that the flu shot puts a live virus in your arm. Such rumors contribute to an unfortunate phenomenon: “vaccine hesitancy.” Respiratory-disease expert Frank Esper of UH Case Medical Center in Ohio told FoxNews.com that flu shots have “absolutely no live virus…. You cannot get the flu from the shot because it doesn’t contain all the parts of the flu virus.” The CDC Web site confirms this.

Still, vaccine hesitancy gives people an excuse not to get a shot or to get one too late, as it takes about two weeks to develop immunity after vaccination. Vaccine naysayers, beware: You are missing out on your best possible protection. [more]