An Emergency Room Nurse Utterly Took Down Flu Vaccine Myths in One Fell Swoop

Beth Purkey, an emergency room nurse, recently spoke out about how important it is to get your flu shot. In a viral post that's making the rounds on Facebook, Beth cleared up five misconceptions about the vaccine, with the hope that people make informed decisions rather than believe everything they read on the internet.

Can You Get Sick From the Flu Shot?

"You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Ever. No matter what anyone's told you," she wrote on Oct. 9. "You CAN get an immune response such as low grade fever, mild inflammation, or local redness and swelling." And according to Beth, that's a good thing.

"It means your body is fighting the inactivated virus it's been exposed to and it will build immune cells specific to fighting that virus if it ever sees it again..... hence the entire premise behind getting vaccinated," she wrote. "It takes your body about two weeks to build fighter cells and for the vaccine to reach its maximum protectiveness. If you get sick within a week or two of receiving the vaccine, then you were exposed to influenza and hadn't yet received protection from your vaccine. Crappy timing. Period."

Does the Flu Shot Usually Cause Adverse Reactions?

The short answer? No, not usually. She pointed out that the flu shot doesn't "cause strokes, auto-immune diseases, or severe allergic reactions." While there's a small percentage of people who have bad reactions, Beth said it's not the norm.

"Let me put it this way; I swell up like Violet in the Willy Wonka factory if I eat avocado," she explained. "I think we can all agree that avocados aren't dangerous, my body is the problem, not the food. Likewise, the vaccine is safe but like all things (even avocados) it can be dangerous for certain people. I cannot stress enough how rare this is, even though literally every online guru with a degree in alternative wellness claims to know someone it's happened to."

Does the Flu Shot Only Protect the Person Who Gets It?

Beth hammered home the fact that vaccines don't only exist to keep people healthy, they also protect those who have compromised immune systems. "If you're healthy, good for you. No, seriously, good for you," she wrote. "You have the luxury of deciding whether or not you want to get poked. If you get the flu, you'll miss a couple days of school, maybe a week off of work and then you'll return to your life. . . . When healthy people vaccinate, we protect the newborns and the grandparents and the chemo patients and the ones who truly cannot receive the vaccine. It's called herd immunity, and it's the cornerstone of a healthy society."

Can the Flu Shot Cause the Stomach Flu?

According to Beth, there's absolutely no correlation. "You did not get the 'stomach flu' from the influenza vaccine. The stomach virus commonly called the 'stomach flu' is not a flu at all. Stomach viruses are commonly caused by novovirus or norovirus, not influenza," she explained. "If you have symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea with a fever right after receiving the flu vaccine you are the unfortunate recipient of a sad coincidence."

Do Medical Professionals Receive Compensation For Being Pro-Flu Shot?

Lastly, Beth explained — for hopefully the last time — that she doesn't receive any compensation from pharmaceutical companies for being pro-vaccine.

"I'm just about the most cynical, skeptical human out there and I require a lot of research & data to formulate my opinions, again, most of my colleagues are no different," Beth said. She added, "I advocate for vaccines because I've held a newborn with fever while the doctor does a lumbar puncture. Because I've put a grandfather on a ventilator who couldn't breathe and because I've put the final drape over a mother of 3's face after she beat breast cancer but died of the flu. I did all of this knowing full well that it was preventable."