Flu myths: No excuses for getting the flu shot 

Achey, sneezy, tired and runny. Every year the colder months bring a round of flu to people. For some, it’s a minor annoyance.  For others, it can be far more serious.  

The infection can easily be prevented before it starts by getting the flu shot, but more often than not, life gets in the way. Well we have excuses for your excuses.  Check out the most common rationales we get for not getting the flu shot, and why they aren’t really effective at all.

I've never had the flu.

Well, that's great for you. But the flu evolves, and unless you have a super immune system that can fight off every strain, you continue to be at risk.

It doesn't work.

Each year, health officials create a flu vaccine to match the predicted strains for that year. A good match can prevent illness in 60 to 85% of healthy children and adults. In cases where the vaccine doesn’t match a strain for that year, you may get the flu, but your symptoms will usually be milder.
(Source: Public Health Ontario).

I get sick from the flu shot.

The flu shot is not a live vaccine and you can't get the flu from it. Some people confuse the flu with other respiratory illnesses that circulate during the winter months.  For example, the common cold has similar symptoms.

I'm afraid of needles.

Getting a flu shot might be a temporary pain in the arm, but that's nothing compared to getting really sick with the flu. Here's a tip:  Look away and focus on something else.

The flu is harmless.

Sure, you might be fine with short-term misery and lost workdays. But what about the people around you who have weaker immune systems? You can be shedding the flu virus days before you get sick with symptoms. For some people, the flu can lead to serious complications like pneumonia or even death. 

The vaccine is harmful.

The flu vaccine has been used for more than 50 years and has a good safety record in Canada.  Flu shots are given to people of all ages and the safety is monitored closely by Health Canada.  Any unexpected side effects are reported by health care providers.  Aside from common reports of sore arms, low fevers and achiness by the general public, severe reactions from flu shots are extremely rare in Canada. 

I don't have time to get the flu shot.

Getting the shot takes just a few minutes, and now that most pharmacies are providing it for free, you don’t even need to make an appointment!  If you have time to line up for your morning coffee, you have time for the shot.

I don't want it and no one can force me to get a flu shot.

That's true, but this isn’t just about you. It’s also about making the right decision for the people you care for, like friends and family. Nobody wants to be that guy in the office. Think about the people you affect.

Proper hand washing is one of the best things you can do to prevent infections and viruses that could lead to illnesses like the flu. Watch these tips to help make sure you get all the germs off and stay healthy.