We're busting the flu jab myths in Bedfordshire

You may think you can catch the flu by going outside with wet hair.

Or perhaps you subscribe to the old wives' tale that carrying garlic around with you may keep the dreaded lurgy at bay.

The flu vaccine

The flu vaccine

But.... the simple truth is - the best protection against the flu is to get the seasonal vaccine, according to health experts in Bedfordshire.

And, what's more - if you're over 65, pregnant, have a long-term health condition or are a frontline health and social care worker, you are entitled to a free flu jab.

However, there are a number of popular myths about the flu vaccine which puts some people off.

But fear not, as Dr Sarah Whiteman, medical director for the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Commissioning Collaborative, is here to address your fears.

*The flu jab can give you the flu

This is a myth. The flu vaccine given to adults as an injection contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t cause flu.

*The flu vaccine can cause serious side effects

No it doesn’t. The arm in which you have the injection may feel sore or you may notice a rise in temperature and your limbs may ache slightly, but these minor side-effects soon pass.

*Pregnant women shouldn’t have the flu jab because it will harm their unborn babies

On the contrary, expectant mothers at any stage of pregnancy should have the flu jab. Pregnant women are one of the groups who are at most risk of being seriously ill if they get flu. Having the vaccination not only protects the mother, it will protect her baby in the first months of life.

*Taking a vitamin C supplement every day will protect against the flu

No it won’t. There is no evidence that suggests a daily dose of vitamin C will protect you against the flu.

*I was vaccinated last year, so I’m still protected.

Unfortunately you’re not. There are many different strains of the influenza virus and each year a vaccine is developed to protect people against the strain most likely to affect the population.

*It’s not safe to give the flu vaccine to children.

This is another myth. The flu vaccine has an excellent safety record in children and this year it’s being made available to all children of primary school age.

*The flu is just a heavy cold.

No it’s not. Although both are viral infections with similar symptoms, a cold is a mild illness that will generally pass in seven to 10 days; the flu is a much more dangerous virus that can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis and encephalitis.