Rumor Review

Rumor Review: Inoculate yourself against flu shot rumors

False rumor meme about flu vaccine

Are you ready for flu season? Maybe you’ve stocked up on hand sanitizer, tissues and ibuprofen. And if you’ve already rolled up your sleeve to get a flu shot, then consider yourself well prepared.

But if you have concerns about the vaccine, it’s time to arm yourself against the viral rumors about it and learn the truth about protecting your health.

So don’t let this multi-tentacled rumor (pictured above) scare you. Its claim that “over 1,100 people died from reactions to the shot” in 2018 is utterly untrue. (In extremely rare cases, people can experience serious allergic reactions to ingredients in the vaccine.)

It also claims that some children who received flu shots have contracted polio — a once-common disease with often debilitating outcomes. The flu vaccine has nothing to do with polio, and the poliovirus is not an ingredient in the vaccine. No children have ever gotten polio from a flu shot.

Finally, that post claims that mercury is a “questionable ingredient” in the vaccine. Vaccines in a multi-dose vial may contain the preservative thimerosal, which has a trace amount of mercury. However, thimerosal is not poisonous and has been used safely in vaccines since the 1930s. There is no thimerosal in the single-dose syringes and nasal sprays often used to administer the vaccine.

Another rumor about this season’s flu vaccine falsely claims that getting a flu shot makes you “an active live walking virus.” It doesn’t. A French parody website, SecretNews, originated this fabrication in August.

Remember, just like the flu itself, false viral rumors about the flu vaccine are a perennial presence. But if you call on your news literacy skills, you can get to the truth and protect your — and your family’s — health.