Reviewed by William Blahd on November 09, 2015


WebMD Cold and Flu Health Center. Michael Smith, MD, WebMD Chief Medical Editor

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Video Transcript

: You might experience some muscle aching, joint pain, which is common from the vaccine.

Narrator: Myth or fact? I caught the flu from a flu shot.

: [Buzzer.]

Michael Smith, MD: No way. You cannot get the flu from a flu vaccine.  There are two types of flu vaccine, there is the injection or the shot. Absolutely no way for you to get the flu from that, because the flu virus is dead. It cannot cause the flu. The nasal spray is a live virus, but it's weakened to the point that again, it cannot cause the flu. Sometimes you can feel a little achy, maybe a little tired for a day or so after getting the flu vaccine, because it's revved up your immune system, but you are not going to get the flu. Impossible!

Narrator: Myth or fact? Flu is only dangerous if you're elderly.

: [Buzzer.]

Michael Smith, MD: That's a big myth. Absolutely not true. The flu is dangerous potentially for anyone. That's why we recommend everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine. People with weakened immune systems or who have chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, are more at risk -- more at risk of getting the flu and having complications from the flu -- but anyone is at a risk of getting the flu. That's why you want the flu vaccine.

Narrator: Myth or fact? Stomach flu isn't really the flu.

: [Ding!]

Michael Smith, MD: True. Stomach flu is not actually the flu. It is not caused by the flu virus. It is a different type of virus, potentially bacteria, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, not the flu though.

Narrator: Myth or Fact? You can skip years between the flu vaccine.

: [Buzzer.]

Michael Smith, MD: That would be a no. You need to get the flu vaccine every single year. The reason is, is that the strains in the flu vaccine change every year.

: [Rushing water.]

Michael Smith, MD: The way scientists determine which strains to put in flu vaccine is partially based on the Southern Hemisphere flu season. Ttheir flu season happens about six months before us, because they have winter in a different time of the year.

Narrator: Myth or fact? I don't need a flu shot because I already had the flu this year.

: [Buzzer.]

Michael Smith, MD: Absolutely not true. Even if you've had the flu this year, it does not mean you don't need a flu vaccine. There is nothing to say that the strain that you had is the same strain that's in the flu vaccine. Even though you should try to get your flu vaccine by November in order to get the most effect from it, the flu season lasts through the end of March, generally. The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to take full effect, so it's really OK to get it even into February.