Dangerous myths surround flu shots: experts

By LIZ SZABO October 31, 2011 11:37AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for everyone over 6 months old. Yet relatively few people get them.

Last year, only 43 percent of Americans got a flu shot — and that was a record.

The reason, experts say, is a host of myths about what the flu is and how dangerous it can be. Among those:

Myth 1: The flu is just a bad cold

A cold is an annoyance. The flu kills up to 49,000 people a year and hospitalizes 200,000, the CDC says. Last year, 114 children died. Flu symptoms tend to appear suddenly, unlike a cold.

Myth 2: The flu shot causes the flu

About 35 percent of consumers think the flu vaccine can cause flu, a CVS survey found. But getting sick that way is impossible because the viruses in the flu shot are dead. The shot’s most common side-effect is a sore arm. The mist nasal-spray version of the flu vaccine contains weakened viruses, so they don’t cause severe symptoms, either.

Myth 3: New “combined