’Tis The (Flu) Season

Know The Facts About Flu To Protect Yourself And Your Family

by WakeMed Health & Hospitals // October - November - December 2016

Every year, five to 20 percent of all U.S. residents get sick with the flu. While the severity, exact timing, and length of flu season vary annually, the strategies to help prevent flu do not. Avoid people who are ill, stay home if you’re sick, practice good health habits and hand hygiene, and get a flu shot.

While planning and prevention are the best defenses, it’s also important to know the facts about the flu. We went to the primary care providers with WakeMed Physician Practices to compile a list of common flu myths and help us separate “flu fact” from “flu fable” to help keep you and your family healthy this flu season.

MYTH: The flu shot will give you the flu.
FACT: The flu shot cannot cause the flu. You may have a mild reaction for a day or two – fatigue, soreness where you got the shot, and/or a low-grade fever. This is your body’s natural immune response, not the flu.

MYTH: You don’t need the flu vaccine if you’re healthy.
FACT: The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months of age or older. It’s vital for individuals in high-risk groups to get vaccinated to prevent serious complications from the flu. But anyone – even the healthiest of people – can benefit from it. Studies show that every year you get the vaccine, you develop increased immunity to different strains of flu.

MYTH: It’s too late to get the flu shot.
FACT: The flu vaccine can be given before or during flu season. The best time to get vaccinated is in the fall, but you can still benefit from getting the flu shot in December, or even later in the season.

MYTH: Antibiotics can fight the flu.
FACT: Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, and the flu is a virus. Along with the flu, colds and bronchitis are almost always caused by viruses, not bacteria.

MYTH: The flu shot doesn’t work.
FACT: Flu vaccine effectiveness may vary each season, but it’s critically important to get your flu vaccine every year. It can still protect against other strains of flu and can lessen the severity of symptoms. The flu vaccine is your best protection for prevention.

How do you know if what you have is the flu? Even though the symptoms can be pretty similar to the common cold, there are a couple of distinguishing characteristics for the flu. The first is often the rapidity of onset. Patients usually know exactly when the flu hits them, while colds and other viruses tend to come on more gradually. The flu is also discernible from the common cold by the presence of a high fever, diffuse muscle aches, significant fatigue, and/or prominent headaches – these symptoms are rare with a cold. 

The flu vaccine is available through your primary care physician or pediatrician, as well as local pharmacies, urgent care and health clinics, and the health department. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after receiving the shot, so go ahead and get it now, and help protect yourself and your family during flu season.

WakeMed Health & Hospitals