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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

5 Reasons Some People Fear the Swine Flu Vaccine

Experts explain why many Americans say they won't get this year's H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
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Fear No. 1: Getting Swine Flu From H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine continued...

Scientists know that just because two events happen in sequence doesn't mean one caused the other. But that isn't how it feels when it happens to you.

All the same, flu is caused by a virus -- and there's no virus in the flu shot. As for the FluMist nasal spray vaccine, there is a live virus, but it can't cause full-blown flu.

"There is no scientific evidence for -- absolutely no truth -- to the urban myth that vaccine will give you the flu," Epperly says.

So why do so many people report getting the flu after a flu shot? The answer is that the flu isn't the only flu-like illness going around during flu season. In fact, influenza accounts for less than a third of flu-like illnesses during flu season. We just tend to call them all "the flu."

But since people who are vaccinated don't get the real flu, they actually suffer less flu-like illness than people who don't get their flu shot or sniff.

"Some people ask, how do you know that what they perceive is not true?" Omer says. "But we do know flu vaccine doesn't cause flu because the better comparison is to look at what happens to people who get the vaccine vs. those who don't -- and there are far fewer flu-like illnesses among the vaccinees."

Fear No. 2: Swine Flu Vaccine Is Too New to Be Safe

People who worry about the safety of the H1N1 flu vaccine are doing just what medical experts have always told them to do -- weigh the real risks of any treatment against the real benefits you can expect.

How is that possible with a new vaccine? The answer is that the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is not as new as it seems.

If the H1N1 swine flu vaccine were a truly new product, it would have to go through years of safety testing before getting FDA approval. The fact that there already is an FDA-approved H1N1 swine flu vaccine doesn't mean corners were cut, says  Frieden.

"The concern is that the vaccine may not be safe, that corners may be cut, that short cuts may have taken, that it's a new or different vaccine," Frieden says. "In fact, none of that is the case. The vaccine is made in the same way it's made each year. ... It's made in the same production facilities with the same companies with the same methods as it is made each year. Hundreds of millions of doses have been given."

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