7 myths about influenza and the flu shot, busted (1/7)

Not sure whether to get a flu shot? Discover the truth behind seven common flu myths

1. The flu shot won’t protect me 100% so why bother?

“When someone asks ‘why do I need the flu shot’? I say that the shot isn’t just for them; it’s also for the people in their life who could get really sick if they got the flu,” says Dr. Jonathan Kerr, a family physician from Belleville, Ont. Seniors, young children, pregnant women, or individuals with chronic (asthma, diabetes, heart disease), or immune compromised (cancer, AIDS, recent organ transplants) conditions are most at risk for influenza-related complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and even death. When you get a flu shot, not only will you increase your chances of avoiding the illness and its complications, but theirs as well.

While it’s true that the flu shot isn’t 100 percent effective, Kerr says that’s not a good enough reason to skip it. “The flu shot isn’t perfect and won’t prevent the flu in every case. This year it’s about 40 percent effective. That’s better than zero percent, so it’s still worthwhile getting a flu shot. It’s a misconception that influenza is a minor illness. It’s very serious,” says Dr. Kerr. [*Update: A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that this year’s flu shot may actually be 23 percent effective.]

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