Now that the colder weather is here so is cold and flu season. It's hard to pass by a pharmacy or doctor office without seeing the constant reminder to get your flu shot, and to make sure your kids have theirs too. After all, the 2017/2018 flu season was the worst in a decade, with the Center for Disease Control reporting that 172 children had died from the flu, with approximately 80% of those children not having received the flu vaccine.
Even parents who don't consider themselves anti-vaxxers are often on the fence about whether they should get their kids the flu shot, with an alarming number of them believing that the flu shot will actually cause their kids to get the flu. A recent survey done by Orlando Health showed just how much misinformation many parents have about the flu vaccine, which often leads to their resistance to have their children vaccinated.
According to the survey half of parents surveyed who had children under the age of 18 believe that the flu shot can cause their child to contract the flu, while a third felt the shot was ineffective. Despite trying to educate the public for years that the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu, it's clear that many still believe it can despite doctors continually reassuring parents that's not the case.
No, the flu shot can't give you the flu. pic.twitter.com/Ao7B64lpJA— WebMD (@WebMD) October 18, 2018
“I’m flabbergasted,” William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I and many others have been saying for over 20 years that you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine. I don’t know how to say it any louder. You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. That’s a myth.”
Jean Moorjani, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children explained how the flu shot works and why it's important to get it early. “The parts of the virus that are used are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” said Moorjani. “After receiving the shot, it takes your body about two weeks to build up antibodies to fight the flu, so if you come in contact with the virus during that time, you may still get sick, which is why you should get your flu shot as early as possible.”
In addition to thinking the flu shot is not effective and that it may actually give you the flu, 28% of parents surveyed thought the flu shot wasn't safe for their child and that it could cause autism. “After years of research, we know that the flu vaccine is safe,” said Moorjani. “The flu shot does not cause autism or any other diseases or illnesses. Doctors recommend the flu shot because it is the best way to protect you and your family from the flu.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends getting your child the flu shot before the end of October to give your child as much as protection as possible, while infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security explained to Yahoo! Lifestyle why it's important for parents to vaccinate their kids.
“There’s no reason to be nervous about getting your children vaccinated against the flu,” Adalja says. “You should be nervous about not getting your children vaccinated. Eighty percent of children who die from the flu are not vaccinated. By not vaccinating your child, you are putting your child’s life in danger.”