5 Flu Myths Debunked

5 Flu Myths Debunked

According to the CDC, flu season in the US usually starts around October and can last through May. While getting the flu vaccination doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sick, it can drastically reduce your chances of getting influenza. In the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC reported that the vaccine was 60% effective in preventing the flu, which is consistent with past seasons. Regardless, the flu vaccine continues to generate a lot of misinformation and confusion. So here are five myths debunked.

You Can Catch the Flu from the Vaccine

The inactive virus is used to make the vaccine, so you cannot actually get sick from the vaccination. However it does take 1-2 weeks to become effective in your system, so you are unprotected during that time. Most people who get sick after the flu shot were already going to get sick or are exposed before the vaccine has a chance to build up in their bodies and become effective.

The Flu is Just a Bad Cold

While there are many similar symptoms, influenza is more serious than the common cold and does need to be taken seriously. A sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and cough are the most common with both the cold and the flu, but influenza will also bring high fever, joint aches, and fatigue. In the US, 36,000 people have died and more than 200,000 hospitalized. Those at the most serious risk are over 65 years of age.

You Can get the Flu from Going out in Cold Weather

The only way to get the flu is from direct exposure to the influenza virus usually through touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your nose or mouth. The flu season begins in the fall when the weather starts to turn cold and runs through the winter. Regardless of the timing of the flu season and cold weather, the two are unrelated.

You Can’t Spread the Flu if You aren’t Feeling Sick

“20%-30% of people carrying influenza have no symptoms!” (Harvard Medical School)

I’m Healthy; I Don’t Need the Shot

Even though the flu vaccination is most often recommended for those with chronic illness, just about anyone can benefit from the vaccine. Most often it is suggested for kids six months to 19 years old, pregnant women, and anyone 49+. Also, health care workers almost always get the vaccine due to their proximity to those who are particularly susceptible to infections in general.

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