Flu vaccine faces criticism in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health posted on social media to encourage Pennsylvanians to get the flu vaccine, but social media users pushed back against the message. In comments, social media users shared their alleged adverse vaccine effects and attributed Guillain-Barré syndrome to the flu vaccine. One described the vaccine as “poison,” while others expressed skepticism about the vaccine's effectiveness, claiming that they have never received the flu vaccine and have not had the flu.

Risk level: Low

Recommendation: The comments are relatively few in number, lessening the risk, but these types of claims may promote vaccine hesitancy this flu season. Doctors in Pennsylvania may face questions about the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine. Talking points may emphasize that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick with the flu, reduces the risk of flu-related hospitalization, and reduces children’s risk of developing life-threatening influenza. Additional messaging may note that flu vaccine ingredients have been shown to be safe and that cases of vaccine-induced Guillain-Barré syndrome are extremely rare. You are much more likely to develop Guillain-Barré syndrome after getting sick with the flu or another illness.