Flu fact or myth?

November 17, 2019 Providence Body & Mind Team

We debunk the most common myths and misconceptions about the flu vaccine with Dr. Aaron Beck

  • Can a flu shot actually give you the flu?
  • Do you need to get a flu shot every year?
  • Should infants get a flu vaccine?


If it’s time to start plucking the turkey and decking the halls, it’s time to get your flu shot. Flu season is officially here, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By now, almost everyone knows the tried-and-true way to avoid the congestion, headache, sore muscles, and cough that accompany this serious disease is an annual flu shot. So why doesn’t everyone get one?

Dr. Aaron Beck, a family practice physician at Providence Medical Group takes a look at the most common flu myths and misconceptions and explains the truth behind the fiction.

It's too late to get a flu shot - the flu season has already passed.

FACT: "We usually give flu vaccines through April or May. That may seem late, but we've had late flu seasons in the last two years of monitoring. If you have the vaccine any time during the flu season, it can help. The goal is that the vaccine will reduce the symptoms even if you do catch it," said Dr. Beck.

The flu vaccine will make me sick.

FACT: “The flu vaccine can't infect you with actual flu illness. This is because flu shots given by injection have either been killed or weakened. I do occasionally see some folks who have mild symptoms of body ache which I suspect may simply be their bodies responding to the vaccine. Any aching is typically short-lived and very mild,” said Dr. Beck.

I should not get the flu vaccine when I am sick.

FACT: Doctors recommend that you recover from any acute or short-term illness prior to receiving the flu vaccine. This allows your immune system to focus its attention on the vaccine and not on fighting another illness.

Babies six months or younger can’t receive the flu vaccine.

FACT: “I agree. Flu vaccines are most effective when given on schedule, starting six months after birth. It’s critical, then, that if you spend time around infants that you receive a vaccine to prevent against influenza. We call this ‘cocooning.’ Cocooning protects an infant by lessening the chance that the baby will be exposed to the flu virus by his or her caregivers,” said Dr. Beck

Every person who gets a flu shot helps keep their community healthy.

FACT: The flu vaccine doesn’t just protect you; it helps protect the people around you by hindering the spread of the illness.

“Influenza is a potentially serious disease! Although many individuals can mount a successful counter attack, there are many individuals—specifically children, people with long-term disease, and seniors—who have great difficulty responding well,” said Dr. Beck.

Healthy people don’t need the vaccine.

FACT: Even healthy people can get sick from influenza. It is an aggressive and potentially serious disease.

“The flu is one of those nasty diseases that consistently surprises me in the clinic with how ferocious it can be,” said Dr. Beck. 

You don’t need the flu vaccine every year.

FACT: The virus changes its makeup every season, so a new shot is needed every year to protect against the new virus.

The flu vaccine starts to work immediately.

FACT: It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to work well so it is wise to get it prior to when we actually see the virus circulate in our community. Get it in October or early November.

Children may need more than one vaccination.

FACT: Children getting a flu vaccine for the first time should receive two doses given at least four weeks apart.

Don’t let myths and misconceptions prevent you from getting the care you need. Flu shots are a proven way to prevent the flu and the toll it takes on your health.


Which #FluFacts are you most surprised to learn? Share your thoughts with readers @psjh.


Get your flu shot today

All Providence Express Care Clinics offer the flu shots. Schedule one or walk-in today. You can also search our provider directory to find a primary care doctor, or look for one in your area.







Related resources

Flu season round-up: Tips and how to prepare

Congested? Essential oils to the rescue!

How to get through your child's flu

Centers for Disease Control Flu Center


This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Body & Mind Team is dedicated to providing medically-sound, data-backed insights and advice on how to reach and maintain your optimal health through a mixture of exercise, mindfulness, preventative care and healthy living in general.

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