ACHOO! SNIFFLE! COUGH! These are the sounds of sickness that are coming during the colder months. This flu season, knowing the difference between a cold and the flu, and brushing up on flu shot facts, can help prevent the spread of this contagious virus.
“It’s important that parents understand flu prevention and its vaccine before we enter flu season,” says Sherman Alter, MD, division chief of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “We hear many myths surrounding the flu vaccine every year, and as infection preventionists at Dayton Children’s, we are always working to keep people healthy by relaying the truth.”
Here are some of the common myths about the flu shot:
“The flu and a cold or stomach flu are the same thing.”
The flu is different from a cold or stomach flu. Flu is a serious illness that makes you feel much worse than a cold. You generally can tell the difference between a cold and the flu because you get the illness during flu season. Flu symptoms are fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, cough (sometimes severe), exhaustion, loss of appetite and sore throat. Cold symptoms are fever (if any), runny nose and a little coughing. A child’s appetite and energy level are usually not affected with a cold.
“It’s too late to get the flu vaccine after Thanksgiving.”
We want to try and give the vaccine to everyone who should get it by October 31. However, the flu season could be prolonged, so after Thanksgiving is not too late to get the flu shot; you can get the vaccine anytime.
“The flu shot can give you the flu.”
The flu shot is a killed vaccine with no live virus. You can’t get the flu from a killed vaccine. If you feel you have flu symptoms after the shot, you could have picked up another infection, or you had already picked up the flu before your shot and it took some time for your immune system to respond.
“It’s better to get the flu than to get the flu vaccine.”
There are very bad cases of the flu, and there can even be mortality in certain high-risk groups. It’s not worth it to get sick. Just get the vaccine.
“It’s not necessary to get the flu shot every year.”
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine each year, including pregnant women. The vaccine changes and the strains of flu also change, so you need to get this important flu prevention every year.
“You can’t prevent the flu.”
While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent the flu, these tips can help limit spreading germs:
* Get your flu vaccine.
* Keep kids home if they have the flu and stay home if you’re sick.
* Wash your hands well and often with soap.
* Don’t share cups and utensils.
* Sneeze or cough into a tissue or into your elbow, not your hand.