Influenza Facts

by Joanna

Have you had your flu shot yet? I did last week. Did it hurt? A little, but I can take it. Let’s put it this way – stubbing your little toe hurts WAY worse.

Some people (even in my own family) say they don’t believe in the flu vaccine. What’s not to believe?

Let’s take a look at the facts:

The flu virus is very contagious. If you are around someone with the flu, you can be up to 6 FEET away and contract the virus. When a person with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks, droplets from their mouth can land in your mouth, without you even knowing. Gross, huh? Or, someone can pick up the flu by coming into contact with these droplets that land and linger on door handles, phone, pens, and other objects. If that person then puts their hand in their mouth or nose, they become infected. Take away lesson: Don’t put your hands or fingers in your mouth or nose. Unless you’re a baby. Then you can do whatever you want.

The flu is serious. You may be young (-ish) and healthy, but the very young and very old can actually die from flu-related complications. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to the flu. They also estimated that over a 30 year period, there have been up to 49,000 flu-associated deaths! Don’t be a statistic!

The “stomach flu” and influenza (flu) are not the same thing. Long story short, the flu is respiratory infection, affecting the lungs and causing dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. The “stomach flu”, in quotes because it’s not an actual medical term, just a popular term, is a gastrointestinal (stomach) illness brought on by things such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites and causing vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. The flu can also produce vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea but it’s more common in children than adults.

The flu shot cannot give you the flu. So many people misunderstand this. The flu shot vaccine is actually a dead virus, and the nasal spray vaccine is a very weakened virus, which means that you won’t be infected through the vaccine. “But I know someone who got the flu the day after they got the shot”. Was it the flu or was it a gastrointestinal illness? Also, in healthy adults, the flu can be spread a day before symptoms manifest and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick.

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection, followed by washing your hands often and not sticking your hands in your mouth or nose. So don’t pick your nose or lick your fingers. Especially in that order.

Happy flu season everyone! Let's try to make it a healthy one!


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Fever, Body Aches and Fatigue, Oh My!
‘Tis the Season…Flu Season, That Is!
Is it a Cold or Allergies?

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