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Common misconceptions about the flu vaccine

08 Nov 2018

(Image from Unsplash. Photo by Hyttalo Souza)

The Ministry of Health recommends people get the flu shot once a year, particularly those at high risk of infection, including young children aged six months to five years, pregnant women, the elderly, patients with chronic conditions or weakened immunity, people living in long-term care facilities and healthcare workers.

Yet vaccination levels are low in these groups, according to research at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. About one in 10 pregnant women and one in eight young children get vaccinated against the flu.

Common misconceptions about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine is one reason holding us back from getting vaccinated, says Assistant Professor Clarence Tam as he addresses the issue of the low uptake rate in Singapore and some of the myths surrounding getting the flu shot.

One such myth is that the flu shot causes the flu. This is not the case; the flu shot does not contain any live viruses so it cannot cause an infection. The vast majority of people who get the flu jab will not experience adverse effects after getting vaccinated. The vaccine is also safe for pregnant women, and can be administered at any time during pregnancy.

Another misconception is that the vaccine is needed only when you travel to colder climates in winter. Flu viruses circulate all year round in Singapore, with two peaks in transmission around June and December each year, corresponding to the start of the winter season in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres — so we are more likely to get the flu at home than abroad. This is why people at high risk of infection are recommended to get the vaccine every year, regardless of how often they travel.

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