Myths v. Facts About Flu Vaccines

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with family when the topic of the flu, particularly the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine, came up. My in-laws (one is a mom, the other is a nurse) talked about their concerns with both the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu vaccines and whether or not they or their children should get them. I quickly realized that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there. To help get through all of the confusion, it might help to know the myths from facts.

Myth: You can get a cold or flu from the seasonal or H1N1 flu vaccine.
Fact: The flu vaccines CANNOT get you sick with a cold or flu. My in-law said that the last time her son got his seasonal flu vaccine, he got a runny nose and cough a few days later and had to stay home from school. But the truth is that the two situations are unrelated. The reason it’s called “flu season” is because lots of people tend to come down with the flu at around the same time period. In the case of my in-law, it’s most likely that her son caught a cold at around the same time he got his vaccine, but the symptoms didn’t show until a few days later.

Myth: The H1N1 vaccine hasn’t been tested enough, so it can’t be safe.
Fact: The H1N1 vaccine is made exactly the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made every year. And the seasonal flu vaccine has been thoroughly tested for years. The H1N1 flu is simply a new virus strain. Millions of Americans get the seasonal flu vaccine each year without any problems. To be doubly careful, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the vaccine makers have conducted more rigorous tests on the H1N1 vaccine than they do on other flu vaccines. The clinical trials conducted have shown that the new H1N1 vaccine is both safe and effective.

That said, there are certain people who shouldn’t get the H1N1 vaccine. Generally, these are the same people who shouldn’t get the seasonal flu vaccine. For example, people with egg allergies shouldn’t get the flu vaccines because eggs are used to make both flu vaccines. Learn more by visiting the CDC Web site.

Myth: Getting the seasonal or H1N1 vaccine during pregnancy may be the reason I miscarried.
Fact: Sadly, miscarriages are more common than we think. Everyday, about 2,000 miscarriages occur. In fact, as many as 2 out of 5 pregnancies may end in miscarriage because many losses occur before a woman realizes she is pregnant. It’s common to want to understand why something like this happened.  But please know that getting the H1N1 vaccine doesn’t increase your risk of miscarriage or any other health-related event like heart attacks or strokes. It’s important to know that one event doesn’t necessarily cause the other.

Remember: it’s very important that pregnant moms get both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines. If you have questions, talk to your health provider. You can also submit a question to one of our health information specialists.

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One Response to “Myths v. Facts About Flu Vaccines”

  1. Anne Says:

    Great post Ivette!

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