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Dr. Naheed Ali explains how to respond to Flu Vaccine doubters

The benefits of Influenza Vaccination are clear to those in the medical community. Yet misinformation and unfounded fears continue to discourage some people from getting flu shot. There are lots of misconception out there that I’d like to clear and how I educate who say no to the flu shot. Here are the top 10 reasons patients give me for not wanting to receive the influenza vaccine.


It doesn’t work for many people.

Potential response: While the vaccination may not work for a few, it does work for most. Even when it does not prevent influenza, it makes influenza-related illness less severe.


It has been made to target the wrong virus strain.

Even when vaccine serotypes don’t match circulating virus serotypes, some effectiveness is retained. Some protection is better than none. A universal flu vaccine that doesn’t need to be updated annually is likely several years away.


It makes people sick.

The vaccine is inactivated and does not biologically make people get influenza. The nasal live attenuated vaccine can result in acute upper respiratory


I am allergic to eggs.

Persons with a history of hives after exposure to eggs can receive any influenza vaccine. Persons with a history of severe reactions requiring emergency intervention after exposure to eggs may still be able to get the vaccine but inpatient only. Only people with a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis to the previous dose of any influenza vaccine is contraindicated to influenza vaccine.


I don’t want to put poisonous mercury in my blood.

Ethylmercury preservative in influenza vaccine is safe but methyl mercury in fish, if ingested in large quantities can be toxic to the central nervous system.


I got the flu shot and I still got shot.

The vaccine is intended to prevent influenza. It does not prevent other viral or bacterial illness that may mimic influenza


I don’t like needles.

Take the nasal flu vaccine


I don’t want to take anything that can mess with my other medications.

Immunosuppressive drugs may reduce influenza vaccine immunogenicity but the vaccine does not alter the efficacy of these drugs or other medications.


I’m pregnant and I don’t want to expose my unborn baby to anything potentially harmful

The flu vaccine during pregnancy protects you and your infant since the protective antibodies are transmitted through the placenta and can last up to 6 months. After the age of 6 months, the child should get annual influenza vaccination.


I am afraid it will trigger an immune response that will make my asthma worse

The inactivated influenza vaccine does not precipitate asthma exacerbation. Rather, it prevents 78% of attaches leading to emergency room visit or hospitalization. The live vaccine is contraindicated in children 2-4 years old with asthma.


Naheed Ali, MD, FHM President & Founder

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