Flu Fiction

Feb 16, 2014

Myth 1: Influenza is not serious!

It can be …

Influenza (commonly known as the flu) is a highly contagious and for some a potentially life-threatening disease. (See: Who should be vaccinated?) Even healthy young people may take two weeks or more to recover. Not recovering properly could lead to serious consequences.

Myth 2: It’s just a cold.

No it’s not!

Although initial symptoms might be similar, influenza can be life threatening. (See: at-risk groups)

Typical flu symptoms can include:

  • fever (often high)
  • chills
  • severe cough
  • headaches
  • muscle aches and pains
  • sore throat

children’s symptoms may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Note: If you have a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing without high fever, headache and muscular ache, you’re probably suffering a common cold. Most Australian adults contract a cold two to three times a year. (See: What is influenza?)

Myth 3: Vaccination can cause influenza.

Not possible!

Influenza vaccines used in Australia do not contain any live viruses so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.

The virus is grown in chicken eggs.

The harvested fluid is treated to kill the virus.

Harvested egg fluid is processed to collect, concentrate and purify the virus.

The virus is broken into small pieces (split) prior to formulating the vaccine.

(See: Producing vaccine) 

Myth 4: Vaccine is not effective!

Yes it is!

In healthy people under 65, the vaccine is 70 to 90% effective.

Even though the vaccine effectiveness drops in the over-65 age group, during influenza season vaccination greatly reduces cases of hospitalisation – and death – in this group.

Myth 5: Vaccination will make me ill.

Probably not …

Serious adverse reactions to the flu vaccine are rare. The most common reactions are redness and swelling at the injection site.

Allergic reactions are rare but may occur in people with a severe egg allergy – such people should not receive the influenza vaccine. (See: Producing vaccine)

Myth 6: I’m young and healthy and will not get the flu.

This is wrong!

Anyone can contract flu. Being fit and healthy doesn’t protect against infection.

Myth 7: I was vaccinated last year – I’ll be right for a while …

No, you will need an annual flu shot!

The types of influenza viruses circulating in the community usually change from year to year. And even in a year where the virus strains are the same, you still need your annual flu shot. The immunity provided by current vaccines begins to fade after a year. In light of this, a new vaccine is available annually to provide maximum protection.

Myth 8: Sick people shouldn’t be vaccinated against influenza.

Think again …

If you have a minor illness without fever, vaccination is fine, especially if the person is in one of the groups at risk of serious complications. (See: Who is at risk?)

Myth 9: Flu vaccination is dangerous for pregnant women and unborn children.

No!

There is growing evidence that vaccination during pregnancy protects the mother from serious illness and then the infant during the first months of life. There is no evidence that vaccination is unsafe for mother or baby.

(See: Flu and pregnancy)

Myth 10: I had the vaccination last year but still got the flu.

Did you have a cold or the flu?

It’s estimated that 10 to 15% of the population has flu annually. The highest rate is in young children – maybe 30% or more.

Most adults have 2 to 4 colds a year. (Those with young children have more.)

Children have around 6 to 10 colds per year – the vaccine doesn’t protect against colds

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