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Flu Facts

Flu Facts vs. Fiction

Know your flu facts!

Myth #1: You can get flu from the flu vaccine.

FALSE – This is impossible. The flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus or no flu virus at all, so it cannot give you the flu. If you do get flu following vaccination, there are a few possible explanations. Since it can take up to two weeks following a flu vaccine for your body to build the proper immune response to help prevent flu, you could have been exposed to the flu virus before you were protected by the vaccine. In some cases, people may feel a bit under the weather after they get vaccinated, which is a simple side effect of the vaccine, and should not be confused with actually being infected with the flu virus.  Rather, a slight fever or general ashiness or fatigue can be a sign that your immune system is doing what it should be to build immunity to flu in response to the vaccine. This is not flu. When someone is sick with flu they suffer severe and long-lasting symptoms.

 

Myth #2: The flu is just a bad cold.

FALSE – The flu is a serious disease. It is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs) that can cause secondary complications and attack other organs in the body. Every year in the U.S., approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die because of the flu. In fact, influenza kills more Americans every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease - upwards of 56,000 people, including approximately 100 children.

 

Myth #3: It is not necessary for children to receive a flu vaccination.

FALSE – Children are two-to-three times more likely to develop influenza than adults because of their less-developed immune systems. More than 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized due to flu each year. More than 1,650 children have lost their lives to flu in the U.S. since 2004; the majority of these children were not vaccinated and many were otherwise healthy.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu every year.

 

Myth #4: The side effects of the vaccine are worse than flu itself.

FALSE – Most people who get the flu shot have no reaction. Up to 25 percent may have some redness and slight swelling at the site of injection; the risk of a severe allergic reaction in those who receive a vaccination is less than one in four million.

 

Myth #5: You must be vaccinated in the Fall to be protected against flu.

FALSE – Medical experts recommend that you get your flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine becomes available, and ideally before flu starts circulating in your community.. The flu virus tends to spread from October to May, with peak activity generally occurring in January or February. However, vaccinations can be given at any time during the flu season – even getting a vaccination later in the season (December through March) can still help protect you from influenza. But remember that it takes your body up to two weeks to build up immunity following flu vaccination. Additionally, even if you've had flu during the season, it is still recommended that you get a flu vaccine since getting one strain of flu does not prevent you from getting any of the other circulating strains.

 

Myth #6: Only older people need flu vaccine.

FALSE –The flu does not discriminate and poses a potential risk to everyone, regardless of age. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu every year.

 

Myth #7: Taking vitamin C, Echinacea or elderberry will prevent flu.

FALSE – There is no conclusive evidence that these treatments are effective against flu. Annual flu vaccination is the best preventative measure you can take to protect yourself and your family from flu. In fact, studies show that flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by up to 60%. Even if you do get flu, those who are vaccinated greatly reduce their risk of flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization or death.

 

Myth #8: The flu vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing flu.

FALSE – Although influenza vaccination is not 100 percent effective, when well-matched with circulating flu strains, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness by up to 60%. The flu vaccine was also found to prevent death in otherwise healthy children by as much as 65%. It’s important that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu to help reduce the spread of the virus in the community.

 

Myth #9: Getting a flu vaccine every year isn’t necessary.

FALSE – Because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines are updated from one season to the next to protect against the most recent and most common circulating flu strains. This is why it is recommended that individuals get a flu vaccine every year. In addition, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time; therefore, annual vaccination is needed for optimal protection.

 

Myth #10: Healthy people don’t need a flu vaccine.

FALSE – The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu every year. The flu can be potentially serious, even deadly, for anyone, regardless of age or health status.

Infants younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated. Protect them by getting yourself, other children and family members, and close contacts vaccinated. This will help prevent spreading the flu virus to infants.

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