I’ve heard that the flu vaccine is unnecessary, or that it can actually cause the flu. Is that true?
Flu shots can't cause the flu, but this is perhaps the most persistent of the myths about the flu vaccine. All influenza vaccines contain a dead virus in order to build up immunity to the illness. While your child may develop flu like symptoms such as a mild fever, or a runny nose, this is normal, and is not a manifestation of the flu. In fact, these symptoms are a good sign, because they are indications that the immune system is responding and the body is processing the material found in the vaccine.
It is important to remember that flu vaccines prevent influenza, not illnesses caused by other germs, and there are multiple respiratory viruses that exist in schools and daycares. Thus, even though a child may begin to exhibit symptoms of the flu after having been given the vaccine, this does not mean the vaccine was in some way ineffective.
The flu affects 5 to 15% of Canadians each year. While the majority who become sick will recover, the flu results in an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 to 8,000 deaths in Canada each year. The best way to protect children and all family members against influenza and its complications is to make sure that they get the influenza vaccine or flu shot every year, starting at age 6 months. Combined with regular hand washing, the flu shot is the best way to protect your child and your family from the influenza virus.For more information on the flu vaccine, and to find a vaccination clinic in your area, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s web page.