Why people avoid the flu shot
Flu (influenza) is a serious disease caused by the influenza virus and it can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 4,605 US deaths in 2014 were caused by the influenza virus. About 80-90% of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 years or older. Vaccination during flu season (October to May) provides protection against infection from the influenza virus, yet so many Americans do not receive the flu shot every year. According to the CDC, only 47.1% of people 6 months or older received the flu vaccination during the 2014–15 flu season. Here are some reasons why people do not receive the flu shot.
1. Vaccines are dangerous and can cause autism
Many people have followed the anti-vaccine propaganda, believing that every vaccine may cause autism in children. A study was conducted to determine if an increase in exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines (e.g., flu vaccine) is associated with the risk of autism. It was concluded that increasing the exposure to vaccines during the first 2 years of life was not related to the risk of developing autism. The 1998 British study by Andrew Wakefield that linked vaccines to autism was discredited; however, many people are still misinformed because the media has failed to publicize the results of studies that discredited the idea that vaccines are associated with autism.
Also Read: Do Vaccines Cause Autism
2. The Flu vaccine does not work
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine has always been a major concern for many people. Every year, the influenza virus changes. Meanwhile, every year researchers have been working hard to predict which strains will cause the flu in the upcoming season. Although mostly accurate, there are years when their predictions were not accurate, leading to reduced effectiveness of the flu vaccine. Different influenza strains are more prevalent at different times during the flu season. Studies have shown that the risk of flu illness was reduced by 50-60% among the overall population when the influenza virus strain predicted is similar to the actual strain that is causing infection in the community. Available flu vaccines are trivalent or quadrivalent injections which contain inactivated forms of the different virus strains. Although the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, those who receive the vaccine are less sick and recover quicker if they become infected.
3. The flu vaccine gives you the flu
The flu shot introduces an inactivated form of the influenza virus or its components into the body. This causes the immune system to develop antibodies against the virus in about two weeks after the vaccination. Many people claim to have symptoms of the flu or acquire the flu right after the vaccine. If the patient contracted the flu virus prior to or within two weeks of receiving the vaccine, the vaccine would not be able to prevent the infection.
People have also reported that they were infected with the flu virus despite receiving the flu vaccine. Patients have experienced a cold and misinterpreted it for the flu because flu and cold symptoms can oftentimes be confused. Cold symptoms typically start with a sore throat followed by a runny nose, congestion, and cough which last for about a week. Symptoms of the flu tend to be more severe, quick onset, and can last longer than a week. Flu symptoms also include coughing, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and tiredness. Unlike the cold, the flu is often accompanied by a fever greater than 101 degrees and can sometimes cause vomiting and diarrhea. The flu can also cause complications such as bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia, and it can be life-threatening.
4. The Flu shot cost too much
Cost is often a barrier to obtaining many health services. Many retail pharmacies understand this barrier and have lowered the cost of their flu vaccines in order for patients to afford them. Many employers offer flu vaccines to their employee at little to no cost. If this is not an option, flu vaccines are offered for free at the local county health department and many health fairs. Pharmacies like Wal-Mart offer the flu shot (trivalent or quadrivalent) for about $27, Costco for $15, CVS for $40, Walgreen’s for $32, and Rite-Aid for $32. The flu shot costs less than treatment for the flu.
5. Allergic to eggs
Most flu vaccines are produced using an egg-based manufacturing process that leaves a small amount of egg protein in the vaccine. However, an egg allergy is not a contraindication to receiving the flu vaccine. The CDC has updated the warning for patients who have allergies to eggs when taking the flu vaccine.
DeStefano, Frank et al., Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism. The Journal of Pediatrics , Volume 163 , Issue 2 , 561 - 567
“Influenza.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Nov. 2016