Overcoming the #1 Myth About the Flu Shot

Posted by Robyn Whalen on Mon, Aug, 13, 2018

It’s likely that some of your employees believe the flu shot will make them sick. In fact, this belief is one of the top main reasons some Americans go unprotected against the flu each year. A 2014 study found that 43% of Americans believe they will get sick from the flu shot. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.


For employers, debunking this myth at your workplace is one of the best things you can do to help boost corporate flu shot participation. When employees are uneducated about the vaccine and the danger of getting ill from the flu, they are likely to skip their annual flu shot. With each employee left unvaccinated, your company faces a higher risk of an office flu epidemic.

Not sure how to tackle this common myth at your company? We’re here to help debunk that myth, and explain why the flu shot truly is beneficial for you and your employees.

The Truth: 

While this is a popular misconception that spreads like wildfire each year, the truth is, it’s scientifically impossible to get the flu from the flu shot. Here’s the truth about the vaccine: 

The vaccine is made from either a dead or inactive version of the flu virus, or without the virus at all. The vaccine causes the body to develop antibodies to the live flu virus. These antibodies take about two weeks to fully develop and protect you from the flu. So, it’s possible for someone who claimed to get sick from the vaccine actually caught the flu before they received their flu shot or during that two-week window. 

It is possible for people to experience mild side effects from the vaccine. This is the body’s natural response to a foreign substance. These side effects can include slight body aches and nausea, or a low-grade fever. Let your employees know that these side effects are completely normal and should pass quickly. They are not indicative of the onset of the flu virus.

Another typical area of confusion is in the strain of flu that a person might get. The flu shot helps people build immunity to the few strains of the flu projected to spread that year. If a different strain emerges, the vaccine won’t protect you from contracting that particular strain, but it might still help ease severity and length of your symptoms. 

Finally, many people mistake symptoms of other illnesses for signs of the flu. Many other diseases, including the common cold, come with flu-like symptoms. So, even though you think you have the flu, you might just have a case of the common cold or a different bug that’s spreading around the office. 

The Benefits 

Even among the common misconceptions, the benefits of being vaccinated against the flu, and offering this vaccination to your employees are boundless. You and your company can benefit by: 

  • Not contracting the flu and therefore not feeling ill (of course!)
  • Maintaining healthy employees, therefore limiting the number of sick days taken
  • Ensuring productivity by maintaining healthy employees
  • Avoiding the mass spread of the flu among employees

Check out this ROI flu shot calculator to determine the total cost a flu outbreak can have on your company.

In the end, you and your employees can benefit from being vaccinated. The risks of receiving the flu shot are far fewer than the rewards. Remember to educate your employees about the importance of the flu shot and address any myths that might be preventing your workforce from getting vaccinated. 

How have you started promoting on-site flu shots this year? Comment below! 

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Editor's note: This blog was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and relevance.  

Image created by Welcomia -

Topics: Workplace Flu Shots, Wellness at Work


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