People are fickle about the flu shot. During the 2011-2012 flu season, according to the CDC, only 42% of the U.S. population actually got the vaccine.
Many have misperceptions about the vaccine's safety and about the seriousness of influenza. A survey of over 1,200 adults by the Eliza Corporation and the Rand Corporation found 46% of people asked still believe the flu shot actually causes the flu. That means there's a huge opportunity to boost your onsite flu shot clinic with some employee education.
Over the years we've heard a lot of reasons why employees don't get flu shots. So today we're debunking some of the most persistent myths about flu shots.
Myth: The flu is just a really bad cold.
Fact: The flu is serious stuff. It can be life-threatening, with the ability to cause secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. Nearly 200,000 people end up in the hospital each year.
Myth: The flu vaccine will give me the flu.
Fact: You cannot get the flu from your flu shot. Why? That vaccine is made from a dead or inactive virus that can no longer spread its fever-spiking properties. In rare cases, a person may experience a mild reaction to the shot that includes a low-grade fever, but these reactions are not the flu.
Myth: The flu vaccine is not safe.
Flu vaccines are safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration hold vaccines to the highest safety standards and the vaccine is closely monitored.
Myth: If I got a flu shot last year, that should be good enough.
Fact: With the seasonal flu, it is important to get the vaccine each year. That’s because the dominant flu strains change from year to year, so getting vaccinated annually keeps you protected.
Myth: If you’re young and healthy, you don’t need the shot.
Fact: Everybody who can get a flu shot, should. If you are young and healthy, it’s true you will likely recover just fine from the flu. But why get sick in the first place if you can prevent it? Also, keep in mind all of the people in your life that would likely not recover easily from the flu – such as small children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
Overall, the best approach for employers is to directly address myths and misconceptions about the flu shot. Provide flu education materials well in advance of your on-site clinic to motivate employees to get vaccinated.