Flu shot myths, warnings

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 3,000-50,000 flu-related deaths happen every year in the United States. 

Another 200,000 people are hospitalized every year. Still, health care providers say myths about the flu vaccine keep people from protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Michelle DeSalvo, physician assistant from Legacy Community Health said children under five, adults over 65 years old and people with chronic illness more at risk for flu complications and hospitalizations.

“I still encourage healthy patients that don't really have any chronic illnesses [to get the shot] because there's lots of people around you,” she said. “Most of our families, there's elderly in the home and there's young people in the home.”

Some myths might have you convinced that if you don't feel bad, you could not expose others to the virus. On the contrary, some research suggests up to 30 percent of people carrying the flu do not have symptoms. ()

At any time during flu season, a number of strains could be ready to attack, which is why DeSalvo says to let your doctor determine which vaccine is best for you based on your medical history and age.

“It protects from four different strains, so the one that we carry is a quadrivalent,” she said, “to try and get different strains so it's usually influenza A and influenza B that it covers, but it's multiple strains with those.”

Plus DeSalvo promises you will not, ever, get the flu because of the shot.

“That is an absolute myth, the flu shot does not cause the flu, it's impossible to cause the flu. I think that the myth is there because … after the flu shot, they get symptoms of cough, sore throat, maybe fever or maybe a little rash on their arm from where they got the shot but it's not from... You did not get the flu virus from the flu shot,” she insisted.

Those symptoms, DeSalvo says, are either a reaction to the shot or a different illness. It should be shorter lived than the actual flu virus and DeSalvo says you'd rather suffer through that than the real thing: a full week of high fever, body aches, chills.

She also reminds pregnant women to get the flu shot since you can pass the benefits on to baby, which could help protect them through first six months before they can get a flu shot.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2