If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how sick you can be. Chances are good that some of the advice friends and family gave you about avoiding or dealing with the flu was wrong. There seems to be no shortage of misinformation and bad advice when it comes to dealing with the flu.
1.MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine. But people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness.
2. MYTH: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated.
It’s true that the flu vaccination is routinely recommended for people who have a chronic illness. But anyone — even healthy folks — can benefit from being vaccinated. Current guidelines suggest that children ages 6 months to 19 years old, pregnant women, and anyone over age 49 be vaccinated each year. In addition, the flu shot is recommended for healthy people who might spread the virus to others who are particularly susceptible. For this reason, health care workers are routinely advised to get the flu vaccination to protect their patients.
3. MYTH: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to protect yourself from the flu.
There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself during flu season besides vaccination. Avoid contact with people who have the flu, wash your hands frequently, and consider taking anti-viral medications if you were exposed to the flu before being vaccinated.
4. MYTH: The flu is just a bad cold.
Influenza may cause bad cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness, and cough. But in the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
5.MYTH: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.
6. MYTH: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
The influenza virus changes (mutates) each year. So getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak.