Fact: As many as 650 000 people a year can die of the flu. This only represents respiratory deaths, so the likely impact is even higher. Even healthy people can get the flu, but especially people whose immune systems are vulnerable. Most people will recover within a few weeks, but some can develop complications including sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, heart or brain inflammations.
Fact: The injected flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus that cannot give you influenza. If you feel achy or slightly feverish, it is a normal reaction of the immune system to the vaccine, and generally lasts only a day or two.
Fact: The flu vaccine is proven to be safe. Severe side effects are extremely rare. One in a million people may get Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), which cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
Fact: Several flu viruses are circulating all the time, which is why people may still get the flu despite being vaccinated since the vaccine is specific to one strain. However, being vaccinated improves the chance of being protected from the flu. This is especially important to stop the virus affecting people with vulnerable immune systems.
Pregnant women should especially get the flu vaccine since their immune systems are weaker than usual. The inactivated flu vaccine is safe at any stage of pregnancy.