Facts and Myths

MYTH: "The flu isn't a serious disease."
FACTS: Influenza (flu) can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults.

MYTH: "The flu shot can cause the flu."
FACTS: The flu shot cannot cause the flu. There is nothing live in the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is given with a needle and some people get a little soreness, tenderness or redness where they get the shot. It goes away in a day or two. Serious reactions to the flu shot are very rare.

MYTH: "The flu shot does not work."
FACTS: Much of the time the flu shot will prevent the flu. Recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 and 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when there is a good match between circulating flu viruses and those in the flu vaccine. Getting the vaccine is your best protection against this disease.

MYTH: "The side effects are worse than the flu."
FACTS: The worst side effect you're likely to get from a shot is a sore arm. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur, usually beginning soon after vaccination and lasting for one to two days. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, fever, sore throat and cough. The risk of a severe allergic reaction is very rare.

MYTH: "Only older people need a flu vaccine."
FACTS: Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Some people are at a higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including those who are over the age of 65; adults and children with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease;  pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.

MYTH: "You must get the flu vaccine before December."
FACTS: Flu vaccine can be given before or during the flu season. The best time to get vaccinated is in September or October. But you can get vaccinated in December or later. To find out where flu vaccines are offered in your area, call Stony Brook Medicine's HealthConnect® at (631) 444-4000, your doctor or pharmacy; or use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

*Source: cdc.gov/flu