Hadleigh & Boxford Patient Participation Group: Flu and Flu Vaccine Myths & Facts

Myths surrounding the flu and the flu vaccine are as infectious as flu itself. The following facts may help dispel those myths.

MYTH: Having flu is just like having a heavy cold.
FACT: A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles as well as a cough and a sore throat. You’re likely to spend two or three days in bed.

MYTH: Having the flu vaccine gives you flu and is not safe.
FACT: No it doesn’t, and it is very safe. The injected flu vaccine that is given to adults contains Inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t give you flu. The side effects linked with the vaccine are almost always mild and short lived.

MYTH: I had the flu jab last year, so I don’t need it again.
FACT: Yes you do. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination each year that matches the new viruses. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of the flu season that year.

MYTH: The flu jab doesn’t work.
FACT: Flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus. Studies have shown that the flu jab will help prevent you getting flu. It won’t stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary but if you do get the flu after the vaccination it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived that it would otherwise have been.

MYTH: Flu can be treated with antibiotics.
FACT: No, it can’t. Viruses cause flu, and antibiotics only work against bacteria. You may be prescribed antiviral medicines to treat your flu. Antivirals do not cure flu, but they can make you less infectious to others and reduce the length of time you may be ill. To be effective, antivirals must be given within a day or two of your symptoms appearing. A bacterial infection may occur as a result of having the flu, in which case you may be given antibiotics.

MYTH: I can’t have the flu jab when I’m pregnant as it will affect my baby.
FACT: You should have the flu jab no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in. If you are pregnant you could get extremely ill if you get flu which could easily be bad for your baby. Having the jab can also protect your baby against flu after they’re born and during the early months of life.

MYTH: Children can’t have the flu vaccine.
FACT: Children over the age of six months who are at risk of serious illness if they catch the flu are eligible for a flu vaccine on the NHS. All children in primary school and all children in the first year of secondary school will also have a flu vaccine on the NHS. The flu vaccine is generally given to children aged six months to two years as an injection, and as a nasal spray for children aged two to 18 years.

Children ‘at risk’ from flu include those with a pre-existing illness such as a respiratory or neurological condition, or children who are having treatment such as chemotherapy.

For further information:

Hadleigh and Boxford PPG: hadleighboxfordppg@gmail.com

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