1. The flu vaccine can give you the flu and make you sick.
False: The viruses in the vaccine are either killed (in a flu shot) or weakened (in a nasal spray vaccine) so they cannot cause infection.
2. The stomach flu and influenza are the same thing.
False: Stomach flu is an intestinal disease, influenza (the flu) is a respiratory disease. Flu often causes the following symptoms: Fever, headache, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat and muscle aches. While some children can feel nausea and have vomiting and diarrhea with the flu, these symptoms don’t occur often in adults.
3. December or later is too late to get a flu shot.
False: The CDC recommends you get the vaccine as soon as it’s available, even if you have to wait until December, January or later. Influenza peaks in February in most years, but the disease can occur as late as May.
4. People should be vaccinated against the flu every year.
True: The CDC recommends annual flu vaccines for two reasons: New vaccines are updated each year to fight against the three most common viruses for that year. Also, your immunity declines over time, so an annual vaccination gives you optimal protection.
5. Washing your hands can protect you from the flu.
False: The CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the most important and primary step in flu protection. However, covering your cough and frequently washing your hands are also important steps in stopping the spread of germs.
6. The flu vaccine protects against three strains of flu.
True: Each year research is conducted to suggest the three most common viruses. While there are many different flu viruses, the vaccine protects against these three.
7. The flu is typically spread through coughs and/or sneezes.
8. The flu isn’t a serious illness.
False: The flu is a serious contagious disease that causes illness and related hospitalizations and deaths every year. Over a period of 30 years, from 1976 – 2006, the CDC estimates that flu-associated deaths ranged from an annual low of 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
9. You have to get a shot to get a flu vaccine. Ouch!
False: There’s a nasal spray (FluMist®) vaccine option for healthy people between 2 and 49 years old who are not pregnant. “Healthy” refers to those who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to complications from influenza.
10. You can spread the flu before you even have symptoms.
True: Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning a full day before their symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. So you may be able to pass it on before you know you’re sick, as well as while you have flu symptoms.