Flu Season: Myths vs. Facts


Flu season is quickly approaching. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those
aged 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most
important step in protecting against the flu. There are many misconceptions about the seasonal flu vaccines. Below
we have highlighted some of these common misconceptions and the facts to dispel them.

1. MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine. FACT: The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated
virus that cannot transmit an infection. Therefore, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. However, it
typically takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective. During those 2 weeks, it is still possible
for an individual to get the flu or another respiratory virus.

2. MYTH: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated. FACT: Healthy individuals are still at risk of the
flu. Getting vaccinated every year is important and vaccination can help prevent the spread of the
virus to others who may be vulnerable.

3. MYTH: Flu and cold symptoms are the same. FACT: Cold and flu symptoms may seem similar,
however, cold symptoms are much milder and fewer in number. Flu symptoms include cough,
congestion, chills, sore throat, headache, body aches, fatigue and fever.

4. MYTH: You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat, with wet hair or by sitting
near a drafty window. FACT: The only way to catch the flu is by being exposed to the influenza virus.
Because flu season coincides with cold weather, the flu is often blamed on cold weather.

5. MYTH: Feed a cold, starve a fever. FACT: It was believed that the body would have less energy to
fight off illness because it was expending energy for digestion. As with any infection, the body
requires nutrient dense foods and additional fluids to recover. Inadequate intake can actually make
infection worse in those with less effective immune systems such as young children and the elderly.

6. MYTH: Flu vaccination is not necessary each year. FACT: Immune protection from the flu vaccination
declines over time. In order to receive the best protection, it is advised to receive the flu shot annually.
The vaccine may vary from year to year to match the circulating flu virus.

7. MYTH: The flu vaccine can cause severe side effects. FACT: The most common side effects from the
flu shot include reaction at the injection site (such as redness or soreness), headache, muscle aches,
dizziness and fever. Severe side effects such as a severe allergic reaction is very rare.

8. MYTH: I am pregnant so I should not receive the flu vaccine. FACT: The American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all women who are pregnant during flu season
get a flu shot, regardless of their trimester. The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant
women than in women who are not pregnant.

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