The Big Story Blog

Myths and reality about the flu shot

Posted at 12:00 PM on October 26, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Health

Pharmacy giant CVS administers a lot of flu shots across its 7,200 stores. So it's recent national survey on public attitudes and misconceptions about the vaccine are fascinating.

Here are some of the survey highlights.

-- 49 percent think flu shots are mainly for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions, despite recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control that everyone ages 6 months and over should get an annual flu shot.

-- 35 percent believe flu shots can give people the flu. Not true. The CDC says: The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection.

-- 25 percent do not think flu shots work very well. Interesting observation given today's story.

-- 22 percent think flu shots can protect people for up to two years. Officials say it needs to be done every year because, as CVS notes, "the immunity provided by the vaccine declines over the course of the season."

Couple of other interesting bits from the CVS survey:

African American adults are more likely to have misconceptions about flu shots and are somewhat less likely than others to get a flu shot, yet are among the most concerned about picking up germs.

Hispanic adults are more likely than others to do all the right things to avoid getting and transmitting the flu, and are among the most likely to plan to get a flu shot this year.

Check out the CDC's entire list of flu and flu shot misconceptions.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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