Every myth you’ve ever heard about the infamous flu has been debunked.
Myth: The seasonal flu is annoying but harmless.
Fact: Influenza (flu) is different from the common cold. Flu infection causes fevers, headache and fatigue that can last up to a week.
Complications and severe disease that could result in death are more likely to occur in people with risk factors such as pregnant women, young children, older adults and those with certain underlying chronic conditions.
Myth: There is no treatment for the flu.
Fact: There are a number of steps you can take to relieve the symptoms of flu. If symptoms are not relieved or you are concerned seek medical advice.
Myth: Antibiotics can treat the flu.
Fact: Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections. The flu is a viral infection, so antibiotics are ineffective in treating the flu. However sometimes you can have a viral and a bacterial infection at the same time.If your symptoms are not resolving or you are concerned seek medical advice.
Myth: If you get the flu, you can’t get it again during the same flu season.
Fact: The flu can be caused by many different strains in the same season, so it is possible to get the flu again in the same season.
Myth: If you’re young and healthy, you don’t need to worry about getting the flu vaccine.
Fact: The flu affects individuals of all ages differently. Even if you’re young and healthy you can still get serious side effects from the flu. In fact, children are at highest risk of being hospitalised with the flu. Importantly you may spread flu infection to others who are more at risk of becoming severely ill.
Myth: You can skip years between flu vaccinations and still have immunity.
Fact: The flu is often caused by different strains each year.Each year a vaccine is developed to fight the prevalent strains in the community, which is why you should be vaccinated annually.
Myth: Cold weather causes the flu.
Fact: The flu is caused by a virus, not cold weather.
Myth: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to protect yourself from seasonal flu.
Fact: Good hand and respiratory hygiene (covering coughs and sneezes and cleaning hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel) are very important for protecting yourself and others from the flu.
Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
Fact: People can carry the flu virus for 1 to 2 days before they develop symptoms.This is why it is important to always cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands well (or use alcohol-based hand gel) and to get vaccinated because you can still pass the flu on to family, friends and people who are at high risk of serious illness.
Myth: The flu vaccine gives you the flu.
Fact: You definitely cannot get the flu from having the flu shot. The flu vaccine contains no live flu virus at all—it’s actually a small dose of parts of inactivated flu virus. However, a small number of people might experience flu-like symptoms such as fever and tiredness as part of the body’s immune response to the vaccine.Additionally, as the vaccination takes approximately two weeks to provide protection, it is possible to be infected before you are fully protected.
Myth: You don’t need to be immunised if you’ve never had flu.
Fact: The flu virus has a number of different strains which keep changing, so no-one can ever be totally immune.There are many factors that may increase your risk of infection including age, general health and contact with other people.
Myth: The flu vaccine causes severe reactions or side effects.
Fact: The flu vaccine is very safe, and most people experience no side effects. However, possible side effects may include redness or soreness at the injection site, a mild fever, headache and/or aching muscles. These symptoms don’t usually last more than 1 to 2 days. In the rare event of an immediate allergic reaction, immunisation providers are trained to administer treatment.People allergic to eggs are no longer excluded from influenza vaccination and should discuss their allergy and the flu vaccination with their doctor.
Myth: Getting a flu shot every year weakens your immune system.
Fact: The vaccine actually prepares and boosts your immune system to help fight the virus if you are exposed.People who get vaccinated against the flu every year are better protected than those who do not get vaccinated.
Myth: It is not necessary to get immunised against the flu every year because protection lasts from previous vaccinations.
Fact: There are many different strains of the flu and 1 vaccine cannot guard against them all. The flu vaccine only guards against the most common strains of the virus expected to occur in Australia that year.Because strains may change, you need to be vaccinated each year to be protected against new strains. In addition, the flu vaccine only provides protection for around 12 months.
Myth: The vaccine doesn’t work because I got vaccinated last year and still got the flu.
Fact: There are many illnesses that can cause flu-like symptoms, and the flu vaccine does not protect against all of these.As the vaccine takes up to 14 days to take effect, it is possible to catch the flu virus before, or just after, you are vaccinated. If you are vaccinated when you contract the flu, your illness is usually much less severe.