Fact or Fiction: Debunking flu vaccine myths

As winter creeps closer, so does flu season. But while doctors say now is the time to get vaccinated, myths surrounding the flu shot stop some from doing just that.

There are plenty of rumors out there that keep people from getting immunized with the flu vaccine – and according to Bridget Pfaff, an infection control specialist at Gundersen Health Systems, most of them aren’t true.

“Well I think some of the common myths are you can get the flu from the flu shot,” she said.

So is it true that you can get sick from the vaccine? Pfaff says no.

“The flu shot does contain a virus, but it’s been chopped up and put back together in a way that can’t give you the flu,” she said.

Yet another popular rumor about the vaccine is that it causes developmental disorders, like autism in children. Some studies have explored the possibility, but most debunk that myth.

“There have been definite scientific facts to rebut those studies and say vaccines don’t have any link with autism,” Pfaff said.

Yet another common myth – people who don’t usually get sick don’t need the flu shot. According to La Crosse County Health Director Doug Mormann, even if that’s true, the vaccination doesn’t just defend you from the flu – it defends your community, too.


“When people make the decision to get themselves immunized, they’re not only protecting themselves, but they’re protecting a whole group of other individuals,” he said.

Arguably the biggest reason someone might abstain from getting the vaccine is simply a fear of that needle. That’s a fear doctors are putting to rest by offering a nasal vaccine and several other options to keep the flu at bay.

The flu season is expected to pick up around Thanksgiving. So far, Mormann said the community hasn’t seen any cases. La Crosse School District hasn’t sent any of their children home with the flu, either.

You can sign up for an appointment to get a flu shot at the county’s Health Administration Building. Officials there say there’s no shortage of vaccines available this year. Gundersen also offers walk-in flu shot clinics through Thanksgiving.