Following one of the most severe flu seasons on record, experts are urging everyone over six months of age to get a flu vaccine before the illness starts spreading.
However, a new survey by Orlando Health finds that a significant percentage of parents still have misconceptions about the safety and effectiveness of the flu shot, which may be preventing many of them from taking their children to get the shot.
More than half of parents with children under the age of 18 believe that their children can actually get the flu from the flu shot. A third of parents surveyed said the shot does not work to protect their kids from the flu.
Flu shot doesn’t cause the flu
Dr. Jean Moorjani, a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, acknowledged that concerns regarding medications and vaccines are normal since “information can come from so many places, from friends and family to the internet.”
For this reason, Moorjani says it’s important that parents talk to a trusted doctor who can provide “credible information that is based in science and facts.”
Experts say the idea that the flu shot can cause the flu is a myth -- one which may have been derived from the fact that it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in. During that time, people may pick up a respiratory illness or even the flu and mistakenly think the shot itself caused the illness.
“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,” Moorjani said. “The parts of the virus that are used are completely dead, so you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.”
The survey also found that many parents question the safety of the flu shot. Nearly 30 percent of parents polled believe that it can 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.”
In the wake of a flu season in which 180 children died of flu-related complications, experts recommend that any healthy person over six months of age get the flu vaccine as soon as it’s available. The vaccine will protect the person who gets the shot, as well as those who can’t be vaccinated, such as infants.