Debunking the Myths about the Flu Shot

The flu shot gives you the flu: myth or fact?

It’s a myth. The virus in the flu shot is dead, so it cannot make you sick.

The flu vaccine does not work, you believe? False. The flu vaccine is safe and effective.

What is also true is that flu activity typically increases during January and February. So if you don’t want to get sick, you better get your flu shot now because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

“There are a lot of myths about the flu vaccine that are not true,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The best way to protect yourself, and those around you, against the flu is to get vaccinated.”

Flu activity in San Diego County is at expected levels for this time of the year.

For the week ending December 19, 2015, the Health and Human Services Agency Influenza Watch report shows the following:

  • Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 4 percent of all visits (compared to 4 percent the previous week)
  • Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 23 (down from 35 the previous week)
  • Total influenza deaths to date: 2 (compared to 0 last season)
  • Total lab-confirmed influenza cases to date: 202 (compared to 268 last season)

Your Best Shot Against the Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if your symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

Other Tips to Stay Healthy

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

More information about common myths about the flu shot can be found here.


José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact