Replacing Myths with the Facts can help. According to Harvard Health Publishing, here are 10 common myths about the flu, and the facts:
Myth: You can catch the flu from the vaccine. The flu shot 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 flu shot caused their illness.
MYTH: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated. While it is especially important for people who have chronic illness to get the flu shot, anyone—even healthy folks—can benefit from being vaccinated. Current CDC guidelines recommend yearly vaccination against influenza for everyone older than 6 months of age, including pregnant women.
MYTH: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to protect yourself from the flu.
There are 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.
MYTH: The flu is just a bad cold. Influenza may cause bad cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness, and cough. But according to the CDC, the 2019-202 flu season led to at least 18 million medical visits, 24,000 deaths and 410,000 hospitalizations.
MYTH: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well. Actually up to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.
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.
MYTH: You can catch the flu from going out in the cold weather without a coat, with wet hair, or by sitting near a drafty window. The only way to catch the flu is by being exposed to the influenza virus. Flu season coincides with cold weather, so people often associate the flu with a cold, drafty environment. But they are not related.
MYTH: Feed a cold, starve a fever. If you have the flu (or a cold) and a fever, you need more fluids. There’s little reason to increase or decrease how much you eat. Though you may not have an appetite, “Starving” yourself will accomplish little. And poor nutrition will not help you get better.
MYTH: Chicken soup will speed your recovery from the flu. Hot liquids can soothe a sore throat and provide much needed fluids. But chicken soup has no other specific qualities that can help fight the flu.
MYTH: If you have a high fever with the flu that lasts more than a day or two, antibiotics may be necessary. Antibiotics work well against bacteria, but they aren’t effective for viral infections like the flu. Then again, some people develop a bacterial infection as a complication of the flu, so it may be a good idea to get checked out if your symptoms drag on or worsen.