Five Questions Answered about Flu Shots
With all sorts of misinformation surrounding the flu virus, many people are confused about the best ways to stay healthy. To better prepare yourself and your family for influenza season, learn the facts about :
- Can the influenza vaccine give you the flu? No. Immunizations contain a dead or inactive form of the influenza virus, which cannot cause an infection.
- Can you still get the flu even if you are vaccinated? Yes. Because it is only formulated to protect against the most common seasonal strain, the flu vaccine doesn't offer 100 percent protection from less common variant strains of the virus.
- Does the flu shot really save lives? Yes. The flu kills about 36,000 Americans every year. It also puts 200,000 people in the hospital and costs the country $10 billion annually.
- How can the flu shot help preserve your long-term health? The flu can be dangerous. While most people get well without complications, some will develop ear infections, severe, dehydration, bacterial pneumonia, and worsening of existing medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and congestive heart failure.
- Who needs the vaccine most? While the vaccine is recommended for most children and all adults, it is critical for high-risk groups. Because they have weak or developing immune systems, young children seniors and people with existing health problems are at a higher risk of flu complications.
Other Flu Facts
There is no cure for the flu. That said, within the first 48 hours of infection, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medications that can reduce the duration of your illness.
Antibiotics have no effect on the flu. Since it's caused by a virus, the flu cannot be cured by antibiotics, which are mainly used to fight bacterial infections.
You are contagious before you show symptoms. Studies show that people can spread the flu up to one day before they feel sick.
You can spread the infection for up to a week. Most people are contagious for 5 to 7 days after becoming sick, so it's best to stay home until you feel well.
It takes a few days to get sick. It can take one to four days before an infected person starts feeling the effects of the flu.
Flu season usually peaks between December and March. That said, the exact timing of flu season can vary from season to season in different parts of the country.