12 Myths and Facts about the Flu

Flu season in the United States typically starts from October and extend as far as May each year. The current flu season, in spite of the  high morbidity and mortality we have experience so far,  is yet to peak. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February but can last as late as May.

You should get your vaccine now if you have not got it yet this season. It is best to get vaccinated before flu begins to spread in your community. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against the flu. Do not think it is too late to get your flu shot, it is never too late to make the right decision. The right decision here is ensuring that you get your shot and also ensure that all your loved ones do the same. I actually did an elaborate article on how to keep yourself  safe from the flu. You can read about it here. Now, I am not a "flu police" or a "prophet of doom", I am just a lady who is committed to keeping my larger community knowledgeable and well informed.

When it comes to the flu, it is said that not all types are created equal. There are three different types of the influenza viruses. Influenza A, Influenza B and influenza C. Influenza A and B are the two main types that routinely spread  in humans and cause epidemics. Influenza C only cause mild respiratory infections and are not thought to cause epidemics.

The main difference between the Influenza A and Influenza B is in who it can affect. Strains of Influenza B are exclusively contracted by humans, while influenza A can be carried and spread by animals. However, both strains are transmitted by respiratory droplets from coughing and contact with an infected person. This means that strains of A is spread more rapidly than B which also means that strains of B cannot cause pandemic with symptoms likely less severe. The flu shot protects against both strains.

The following are some of the symptoms of the flu regardless of the strain:
  • Fever/Chills
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Running nose
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Fatigue

The goal of the flu vaccine is not necessarily to prevent flu in itself even though it actually primarily  protects people from coming down with the flu, but the secondary goal is to prevent an epidemic and reduce cases of severe flu. In this post, I will like to talk about some Myths and Facts surrounding the Flu and the vaccine.

Myth 1: The Flu vaccine can give you the flu.

Fact: The Flu shot cannot give you the Flu because the virus it contains has been inactivated or severely weakened.

Myth 2: Deaths from Flu are exaggerated.

Fact: The CDC estimates that from 2010-2011 to 2013-2014, influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranges from low 12,000(2011-2012) to a high of 56,000(during 2012-2013).
Also,63 children have been killed so far in this current flu season according to the CDC.

Myth 3: Flu vaccines contain dangerous ingredients such as mercury, formaldehyde and anti-freeze.

Fact: Flu shot ingredients are safe but patients with allergies to ingredients in some vaccines such as gelatin, should avoid vaccines with those ingredients.

Myth 4: Pregnant women should not get the flu vaccine

Fact: Since Influenza(the flu) can cause miscarriages,pregnant women should get vaccinated against the flu to reduce the risk of a miscarriage.

Myth 5: Flu vaccines can cause Alzheimer's disease.

Fact: There is no link between flu vaccination and Alzheimer's disease, flu vaccines protect older adults who are at risk for flu-related health consequences.

Myth 6: Flu vaccines cause heart problems and stroke

Fact: Flu shots reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.

Myth 7: The Flu vaccine weakens your body's immune system

Fact: The Flu vaccine prepares your immune system to fight influenza by stimulating antibody production.

Myth 8: People don't die from the flu unless they have another underlying condition already.

Fact:Otherwise healthy people do die from the flu, the elderly and young children are most vulnerable.

Myth 9: People with egg allergies can't get vaccinated against the flu.

Fact: People with egg allergies can get a flu shot but should consult with their doctor or allergist on options if their allergy is severe.

Myth 10: If I get the flu antibiotics will help me get better.

Fact: Antibiotics can't treat a viral infection.

Myth 11: The flu shot doesn't work for me personally, because the last time I got it, I got the flu anyway.

Fact: The flu shot cannot offer 100% protection against the flu , but it reduces your risk of getting it. Many people mistake symptoms from colds and other illnesses for the flu.

Myth 12: I can protect myself from the flu by eating right and washing my hands regularly.

Fact: A good diet and good hygiene alone cannot prevent the flu.

Now that we have facts and have debunked some of the common myths about the flu,be safe out there. Wash your hands regularly, eat healthy, exercise regularly, cover up sneezes, stay at home if you are ill, but most importantly ensure you get your flu shot.

" I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you."
                                                                                                                                         -Joyce Meyer.


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