Here’s what you need to know about the flu vaccine

Nov. 3, 2017

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Every year, tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. from complications related to influenza, better known as the flu.

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With a few exceptions, the CDC recommends that every American older than 6 months get the flu vaccine, but only 43.3% of adults actually got it in 2016.

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The flu shot is free under most insurance plans — so what’s stopping people from getting their flu vaccine?

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Part of it may be due to harmful — and false — myths about the flu vaccine. One that’s often passed around is that the flu vaccine can give you the flu.

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That’s just not true, says Sophie Godley, of Boston University’s school of public health. And no, there’s no live influenza in the vaccine.

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That’s not how vaccines work.

— Sophie Godley

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Godley explained that vaccines simply prepare your immune system, so if you’re exposed to the flu, you won’t get sick.

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Anyone who says they got sick after the flu vaccine was likely sick when they got it, and it seems connected, Godley said.

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Doctors say that even if you aren’t at a high risk for developing flu-related complications, you should still get the vaccine.

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Getting your flu shot could be lifesaving for others, because it lowers the risk that you’ll pass it on to someone else.

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The flu vaccine is recommended to everyone over 6 months of age in this country for a reason. And the reason is it can save your life.

— Paul Offit, Vaccine Education Center at CHOP

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