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Vaccines: Myth Versus Fact

Vaccines are the safest way to protect ourselves from many dangerous diseases. Here are some common myths about vaccines, and the facts you need to know.

Myth: Vaccines can be dangerous.

Fact: The antigens in vaccines produce an immune response similar to that produced by the natural infection, but without the serious risks of death or disability. And, the amount of added ingredients in vaccines such as mercury and aluminum are tiny compared with what we expose ourselves to on a daily basis.

Myth: I don’t need to get vaccinated against diseases we haven’t seen in the U.S. in many years.

Fact: Having a vaccinated population keeps those contagious illnesses out of circulation. Some diseases still exist in other parts of the world, and international travel can reintroduce them in the U.S.

Myth: I got all my vaccines as a child, so I’m done.

Fact: The immunity we got as children can decrease over time for some diseases. Talk to your doctor about when you last got your vaccines and which boosters might be right for you.

Myth: Older adults don’t need vaccines.

Fact: Everyone needs a flu vaccine annually, and in the age of COVID-19, this is even more important. In addition, adults over 50 should discuss the shingles vaccine with their doctor, and those over 65 should discuss the pneumococcal vaccine.

Myth: I never had chickenpox as a child, so I don’t need the shingles vaccine.

Fact: Ninety-five percent of adults have had chickenpox. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the shingles vaccine for all people 50 and older, whether or not they remember having had chickenpox.

Myth: The flu shot has a live flu virus, so it can give you the flu.

Fact: Most flu shots are made with a killed version of the virus. They cannot give you the flu. The nasal spray vaccine has live but weakened viruses in it. Any flu-like symptoms you might get will be mild and won't last long.

Most Horizon BCBSNJ members can get vaccines from in-network doctors at no cost. To find an in-network doctor, search our Doctor & Hospital Finder.

Sources: World Health Organization; WebMD.