Flu - Myths and Facts

Myth: I don’t need to get a flu vaccine until someone I know is sick.

Getting the vaccine early in the season is actually better for you and those around you. It can take up to two weeks for the protection in the vaccine to be effective. Once you know someone is sick they could have already passed it onto you as it can take days to start showing symptoms. The earlier you get the vaccine, the better protected you are.

Myth: I never get sick, so I don’t need to get vaccinated.

You can be infected with the flu and spread it, even if you're not showing symptoms. Getting the vaccine means you can also help protect others from getting sick, especially those who have medical conditions or infants too young to get immunized who are more likely to have complications from getting the flu.

Myth: I don’t have the time to get vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated takes about 30 minutes. If you get sick, the flu can last for several days or weeks. It can also lead to more serious problems like pneumonia and bacterial infections that can sometimes result in hospitalization. No one has time for that. There are many different types of health care providers who can administer the vaccine including physicians, public health nurses/mass clinics, and pharmacists (for those 7 years of age and older).

Myth: It’s complicated to get the vaccine because there isn’t a flu clinic near my home or work.

Flu clinics are just one great option where people can get their flu vaccine. You can also go to your doctor/nurse practitioner or even to the local pharmacy.

Myth: I think flu vaccines have the potential to create strains that are vaccine-resistant, like what can happen with the overuse of antibiotics.

The influenza virus already mutates frequently. That's why there is a new flu vaccine every year. The strains that are within the vaccine changes to match the strains that are expected to be circulating and that may cause the most severe illness.

Myth: It is better to be naturally exposed to the flu to keep natural defenses strong.

Influenza can spread very quickly and easily. Some people may get the flu and be contagious, but never show symptoms. They may be 'building' their own immune system, but also could be exposing someone with a weaker immune system to the virus, leading to serious consequences for them. People infected with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away from them. In addition, since the flu strains that circulate change year over year it is unknown how the flu may affect a person once infected and person could risk becoming severely ill from the flu. Creating immunity against the flu one year may not protect you from the flu in the following year because the flu virus changes so frequently. That's why the vaccine protects both you and others.

Myth: Last time I got the flu vaccine, it made me sick.

Some people may get flu-like symptoms for a few days after the vaccine and think that they are getting the flu, but that is your body building up the antibodies to learn how to fight the virus if in the event you are infected. Some people experience varying levels of these symptoms, or none at all. Every person is different. If you did get sick after getting the vaccine, it's most likely you were incubating the illness before the vaccine could take effect. Or, it was a different kind of respiratory illness caused by another virus or bacteria, and not the influenza virus.

Myth: There isn’t much evidence that pregnant individuals should be vaccinated.

Data shows that pregnant individuals are at a higher risk of complications or hospitalization related to influenza. There is also evidence that the vaccination of pregnant individuals protects their newborns from influenza and influenza-related hospitalization. It is recommended that all pregnant individuals get immunized against the flu.

If you have any questions about seasonal flu or pneumococcal immunization:

Speak with a health care provider or call Health Links – Info Santé at:

204-788-8200 in Winnipeg or toll-free 1-888-315-9257