NFID Medical Director Addresses Common Misconceptions Regarding the Flu Vaccine


William Schaffner, MD, addresses common misconceptions regarding the influenza vaccine.

William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, addresses common misconceptions regarding the influenza vaccine.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

“I hesitate to mention the misconceptions but I’m afraid that there’s still that myth out there that you can get flu from the flu vaccine. That’s a myth; there’s no truth to it. It may well be that somebody got vaccinated on Monday and on Wednesday they got a cold, and what they’ll do is attribute that cold to having received the vaccine, but there’s no connection. As we all know, the influenza is a killed influenza vaccine, it’s broken up into little pieces, reformulated in the vaccine, it can’t put itself back together again and make an infectious virus. So, you can’t get flu from the flu vaccine.

Now, the other unhappy concept about the flu vaccine is that it doesn’t work well enough. We all wished it would work better, but it’s a pretty darn good vaccine and it’s the best vaccine we have right now. It always prevents many, many infections. And remember, if it doesn’t prevent the infection completely, it will modify the infection; it will make it milder, makes it less likely if you get flu that you have to go to the hospital, be admitted to the intensive care unit, or die.

Nothing that we do in medicine is less expensive, easier to get, and more efficient in providing all that prevention. So, we really ought to insist that our patients get vaccinated, and, of course, we as health care providers absolutely should all be vaccinated, so we don’t give flu to our patients.”

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