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It’s officially fall, which is unofficially flu season. About 10% of Americans get the flu every year and even though it’s common, it’s a pretty serious illness. Fortunately, it’s easy to decrease your risk of catching the flu with a vaccination, but flu shot myths are about as common as the virus itself. Our own Dr. Denise Pate debunks some common misconceptions around flu vaccines with SheKnows.

She is referenced saying:

Myth: The flu is the same as having a bad cold.

The common cold can cause you to feel exhausted and run down. But the flu has all the symptoms of a cold — sneezing, cough and sore throat — and will put you on bedrest. Plus, the complications that the flu can bring could send you to the hospital, and in the worst case scenario can also lead to death. In fact, since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations yearly.

Myth: Healthy people do not need a flu shot.

Anyone can get the flu, even if you’re healthy. That is why the CDC suggests an annual influenza vaccination for everyone who is six months and older. Furthermore, no matter how fit you are, once you are infected, you can become contagious. Actually, according to the CDC, up to 20 percent of people carrying the flu virus have no symptoms.

Myth: I don’t need the flu vaccine every year.

The effectivity of the flu vaccine decreases with time, making it essential to get vaccinated yearly. In addition to protecting yourself, it also protects those around you. It is also vital to understand that the flu virus mutates every year. Getting a yearly vaccine ensures that you are protected from the strains that are more likely to cause an outbreak during that particular season.

Myth: The flu vaccine causes the flu.

The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit infection. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine. But some people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the flu shot caused their illness. In reality they were probably already on their way to getting sick.

Myth: Pregnant women can’t get a flu vaccine.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get vaccinated at any time during their pregnancy. Plus, there’s a higher chance of flu complications in pregnant women. Pregnant women who receive a flu vaccine not only protect themselves but also their unborn child from the flu. Babies are protected by their mother’s antibodies for the first few months of their lives.

Myth: The flu vaccine has several side effects.

Compared to other vaccines, the flu vaccine has one of the best safety records. The most common side effect is tenderness around the area where the injection was given.

Read the original article on SheKnows.