Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you haven’t gotten the flu yet you are safe. The nation is experiencing a particularly bad flu season this year and Tennessee’s traditional flu season peaks in February. There’s still time to get a flu shot and get some benefit out of it if you hurry.
Check out these other flu myths that can be heard all around campus.
Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
Fact: It’s impossible to get the flu virus from the injectable vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit an infection. It does take about two weeks for your body to build up flu antibodies after getting a flu shot, so it’s possible to still get sick after you get the shot. But it’s not the vaccine that made you sick.
Myth: Being a healthy person and using good hygiene measures is enough to protect me from the flu.
Fact: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend all persons over six months of age, regardless of health status, to get a flu vaccine every year. Getting the flu can happen to anyone and unless your body has built up antibodies from the flu (either from the vaccine or from being infected with the flu), it’s a possibility that you could get sick. It takes several measures like the flu vaccine, frequent hand-washing, and other immune system boosters such as avoiding sick people and adequate sleep to decrease the likelihood of a flu infection.
Myth: I’ve received my flu shot, so I don’t need to be concerned about getting a flu bug.
Fact: The flu shot usually offers on average 60 percent protection from the flu. The three strains of flu virus that are in each year’s vaccine are predicted by experts before flu season starts, but there is always the chance that another strain of flu will start to spread and cause infection. The CDC reports that the 2012-13 flu vaccine is covering 91 percent of the flu strains circulating as of early January. Even though it’s not guaranteed protection, those who get the flu shot still have better chances of not getting the flu or having a less severe case if they do get infected.
Myth: The stomach flu is a type of flu.
Fact: Many people call gastroenteritis the “stomach flu” and lump it in the same category with influenza. But the flu is a respiratory disease. Most people don’t have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea at all—but such symptoms do occur more frequently with children. Symptoms of the flu are runny or stuffy nose, fever, body aches, headache and cough.
Myth: I haven’t had a flu shot yet this year, but now it’s too late.
Fact: While getting the vaccine when it first comes out each season is best (in early fall), flu season usually hits its peak in February. It’s not too late to get a vaccine and be protected.
Myth: I got a flu shot in the fall, so I may need a second one in case the protection doesn’t last through the season.
Fact: Studies on levels of circulating flu strain antibodies have shown that the vaccine offers adequate protection through the end of flu season and some protection for months after. Those over age 65 are encouraged to get the high-dose flu vaccine to increase their protection.