Let’s get the facts out of the way straight away. The flu shot doesn’t give you the flu. At all. Yes, you might have a slight reaction to the shot and feel a little off-colour: and the shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu – though it massively reduces your risk. But one thing is absolutely, undeniably, 100 percent true: if you’ve got the flu, it wasn’t the flu shot that gave it to you.
But like many 100 percent true things, this has not stopped a lot of people believing the exact opposite. In fact, a survey by Orlando Health found that more than half of the parents surveyed believed that the shot gives you a dose of flu. This is despite the fact that no doctor will ever tell you that it does, and the medical profession has expended a great deal of time and effort over the years to inform people of the facts.
As Dr Jean Moorjani of Orlando Health explains, “The parts of the virus that are used are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot”. Cannot. So why do so many people think you can? As Mark Twain said, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes: once misinformation takes hold in the population, it’s incredibly hard to shift, no matter how energetically experts keep hammering facts into our skulls.
So here we are, with not only a huge proportion of humanity believing flu shots give you flu, but – according to the same survey – a third of parents believing the shot doesn’t do anything at all. The stakes are not just academic: America’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 172 children died of the flu just in the US last year.
So please, parents everywhere, believe us, but more importantly believe doctors when they say: the flu shot will NOT give you the flu, but it DOES save lives. Spread the word.