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Flu Myth Busters



#1 You can catch the flu from the flu shot. FALSE. You will not get the flu from the flu shot. The flu vaccine is made up of proteins that inactive viral particles attach to, meaning it contains no live virus. Your body produces protective antibodies to fight these particles so you may experience some side effects like a mild fever or muscle aches.


However, it does take 2 weeks for your body to form the antibodies to the vaccine to fully protect you. So if you do pick up something in that time frame, don’t blame your sore throat or cold on the shot.

#2. You don’t need to get a flu shot every year. FALSE. Strains of influenza caused by the most common viruses change every year. So to stay protected you must stay current on your flu shot. The current year’s vaccine is made to protect you for up to four flu viruses believed to be the most likely to spread.

#3. The “stomach flu” is related to the seasonal flu (influenza). FALSE: The “stomach flu” , Norovirus, has no connection to influenza. Norovirus is an intestinal illness while influenza is a respiratory illness. Digestive stresses (vomiting and diarrhea) are rarely symptoms of influenza as with Norovirus.

#4. Healthy people don’t need the flu shot. FALSE. Everyone should get a flu shot. Even the healthiest people because there are new strains every year. You are more likely to pass the virus along if you don’t have the vaccine putting others including your loved ones at risk. The more people that get the shot, the less amount of influenza there will be circulating around. And the excuse that you’ve never gotten a shot and you’ve never gotten sick will eventually catch up with you!

#5. You can stop the flu by washing your hands a lot. FALSE. Yes you should wash your hands. It’s a good practice to protect from spreading germs on a daily basis. But it’s not enough to stop the flu. Influenza is spread through the air via droplets of saliva and on contaminated surfaces. It’s a good idea to stand at least six feet away from anyone with the flu as the airborne droplets from a contaminated person can’t travel that far. Also, be sure to disinfect common areas of your home or workplace if some with the flu spent time there. The flu can live up to eight hours on surfaces. It’s best to try to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth even after washing your hands. Above all, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.

#6. If you get the flu, the shot didn’t work. FALSE. Usually the flu shot is 60-90% effective. This is due to the fact that there are multiple strains circulating each year and it’s hard for researchers to predict which ones with be the most dominant. There is an upside even if you do get sick: your symptoms should be less severe because the shot you received should fight the virus at some level. And if it prevents hospitalization or death, the CDC considers it a success.

#7. Antibiotics can fight the flu. FALSE. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. However, antivirals like Tamiflu might help and could cut the course of the virus by 1-2 days if taken within 48 hours of the first sign of symptoms. Prevention with a flu shot is a better approach. However should you become infected the best advice is to stay home, get plenty of rest, and drink a lot of fluids.

#8. You’re only contagious in the first 48 hours of the flu. FALSE. Even if your symptoms start to subside after a couple of days you may still be contagious. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning the day before symptoms even develop until up to 5 to 7 days after getting sick. Children tend to be contagious longer than adults. If you have the flu, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone with the use of any fever-reducing medicines.

#9. If you didn’t get the shot by January, it’s too late. FALSE. There is no set date for when a flu shot is ineffective. As long as influenza is circulating and people are continuing to get sick in your area, it’s not too late to get the vaccine. Flu season tends to begin in October or November and peak anywhere from December to February but has been known to occur as late May. So if you haven’t gotten your flu shot, it’s not too late!

#10. If I don’t have any symptoms, I’m not contagious. FALSE. Most people become contagious starting one day before they develop symptoms and lasting until about 5 to 7 days after getting sick with the flu. This can last even longer in children. You may even be contagious even before you know you are sick since symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the flu virus enters the body.

#11. I have to go to my doctor to get a flu shot. FALSE. There’s no need to have to make an appointment at your primary care physician to get your flu shot. AuBurn Pharmacy offers walk-in flu shots every day! No appointment necessary!

#12. A common cold can “morph” into the flu. FALSE. Different viruses cause the common cold and the flu, which means that one cannot morph into the other. If you come down with a cold it means it was cause by a cold virus, not a flu virus. Unfortunately the symptoms of these two illnesses sometimes overlap making it difficult to determine if you have just a common cold or influenza. The following may help you decide as there are some differences in symptoms:

Symptoms of Cold vs. Flu

Cold:

  • Runny and/or clogged nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Sinus pressure
  • Headache and/or ear pain

Flu:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Chest discomfort

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