According to Frieden, one of the most common myths about getting the H1N1 vaccine is the notion that the H1N1 flu is typically mild, so it's not necessary to get vaccinated.
"Flu is not a mild illness," he said. "It can make you pretty sick, knock you out for a day or two or three, it can make you miss school and work. And for too many people it can end up sending them to the hospital, to the intensive-care unit, and, tragically, some people may die from it."
Another concern expressed by some people, Frieden said, is that the vaccine, which was rushed into testing and production after the H1N1 virus emerged last spring, may be unsafe. The H1N1 vaccine is made the same way as any other flu vaccine, Frieden said, adding that he has every confidence that it is safe.
The CDC chief pointed to what he considered another widespread misconception: Since the H1N1 flu has already started circulating in every state, it's too late to get vaccinated.
"It's too soon to say it's too late. We don't know what the rest of the season will bring," Frieden said.
In states where the H1N1 flu has been most active, it has affected about 2 percent to 5 percent of the population, leaving most people still susceptible to infection, he said.
"Flu vaccine is our best tool to protect against the flu," Frieden said.
Frieden's remarks coincided closely with statements earlier Tuesday by Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He told the Associated Press that only four of 39,000 Chinese who have received the H1N1 vaccine experienced minor side effects such as headache or muscle cramps, and these effects are to be expected.
Hartl said the current H1N1 vaccine formulation ranks among the safest the WHO has seen.
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