10 Excuses for Not Getting a Flu Shot Busted

Pregnant women, people with egg allergies,
and those with a needle phobia
can all be safely vaccinated against the flu.

When flu season rolls around, there are always some people who come up with reasons to not get immunized. The list of excuses is long, but not one of them is valid, according to Christopher A. Ohl, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Here are the most common excuses not to get a flu shot and why they don't hold any water.

1. I'm healthy.
I don't need a flu shot.

"Even though you didn't get the flu last year, this may be the year," Dr. Ohl cautions. "No one wants to be sick. It's miserable." If protecting yourself isn't reason enough to get vaccinated, consider others who are at greater risk for flu-related complications, particularly young children, older adults, and those with chronic health issues. "These people are more likely to be hospitalized and have more serious problems," Ohl says, so if you protect yourself against the flu, you're also protecting those around you.

2. The flu shot
can give you the flu.

The flu vaccine is made in more than one way. One version is made with an inactivated, or dead, flu virus. Because it's dead, the virus cannot give you the flu. The flu vaccine is also available in the form of a nasal spray or mist made with a weakened live flu virus that has been cold-adapted. It can't cause infection at the warm temperatures inside your body. Another type is made with recombinant DNA technology and an insect virus known as baculovirus. Since this vaccine doesn't contain any flu virus, it can't cause the flu. There are many other respiratory viruses going around during flu season that may be mistaken for the flu, Ohl points out. "People get rhinovirus or RSV [respiratory syncytial virus] and think it came from the flu shot," he says.

3. The flu shot is risky
and doesn't work.

Severe allergic reactions from a flu vaccine are very rare. In fact, the chances of this happening are about 1 in a million, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. On the other hand, every year about 5 to 20 percent of people in the United States are infected with the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. The flu vaccine reduces the likelihood that you'll catch it. In some cases, it can prevent complications and save lives.

4. I got a flu shot
last year.

Flu viruses are constantly changing so flu vaccines are updated every year to protect against the strains that scientists predict will be most common that particular year. After you get a flu shot, your immunity also declines over time, Ohl adds. Because of these factors, the flu shot you got last year won't protect you from the flu this year. You need to be vaccinated every year.

5. I have an egg allergy

Although those with an egg allergy should not use the flu mist, most people with this allergy can safely get a flu shot made with the inactivated flu virus, according to the CDC. Those from 18 to 49 years old can also get the flu vaccine that's made using recombinant DNA techniques — that version doesn't use eggs at all.

6. I'm pregnant.

Pregnancy changes put women at greater risk for the flu and flu-related complications, according to the CDC. Pregnant women who get the flu are also at increased risk for preterm delivery. The flu vaccine protects you and your baby for the infant's first 6 months of life. Although pregnant women should not receive the flu mist or spray, the inactivated flu shot is safe, according to the CDC.

7. I don’t have time
to get a flu shot.
I'll do it later.

It takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become fully effective, Ohl points out. Putting it off increases your chance of being infected.

8. I waited too long.

Flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, though activity usually doesn't peak until January. However, some cases are even reported in the spring. Although getting vaccinated early is best, the CDC recommends getting the vaccine in December or January if you haven't already.

9. I don't like shots.

If a needle phobia is the problem, consider the intradermal flu shot, which is injected into the skin, not the muscle. As a result, it requires a much smaller needle than the regular shot. It's appropriate for adults 18 to 64 years old. Or, consider the nasal spray vaccine, approved for most people 2 to 49 years old.

10. There are drugs to treat the flu.

Although there are antiviral medications that can ease symptoms and speed recovery, they aren't the first line of defense, according to the CDC. Getting immunized is the best way to protect yourself against the virus.

Source: everyday Health: 10 Excuses for Not Getting a Flu Shot Busted- Mary Elizabeth Dallas