Health Officials Fight Flu Misconceptions

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With the flu season approaching Kentucky, health officials are trying to dispel fears that the flu vaccine brings on the illness.

In a recent survey, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found that nearly half of the people surveyed think the vaccine can cause the flu. Doctors said that people who skip the shots endanger themselves and cause flu to spread.

From September through December 2004, only 15 percent of Kentucky children six to 23 months old were fully vaccinated. Doctors said that's a mistake, since vaccination is the most effective way to prevent an illness that kills more than 30,000 Americans a year and lands more than 200,000 in the hospital.

Louisville Health Department Director Doctor Matt Zahn said attitudes about flu shots can be difficult to change. Zahn and others point to several possibilities for why people link the shot with getting flu. People who get the shot, for instance, may get the flu despite receiving the vaccine because it's not 100 percent effective against all strains.

Last year in Kentucky 15 people died and 559 people were hospitalized because of the flu.