There are many myths about the flu going around that can make it hard to know what's real and what's fake. Here's the truth behind a few common flu myths.
Flu myth: "I got the flu shot last year, so I don't need it this year."
Truth: The flu is caused by viruses that change very often. The World Health Organization (WHO) gets reports from scientists around the world about how the flu viruses are changing and uses them to make flu vaccine recommendations twice a year. This way, the companies who make the vaccines can adjust them to give you better protection from the flu. In other words, the flu shot that is available this year will be different from the one you got last year.
Flu myth: "The flu shot doesn't work because I got it last year and still got the flu."
Truth: Since flu viruses are always changing, sometimes the vaccines made for that year don't match the viruses that are going around. When it's a good year, the vaccine prevents the flu for about 60% of people. It's also important to keep in mind that flu symptoms can look a lot like those from other illnesses, like the common cold or COVID-19.
So, it is true that you can get the flu even after getting vaccinated. But if you end up catching the flu after getting the vaccine, studies show that it can still help, as it can lower your risk of being hospitalized because of the flu.
Flu myth: "I can let the flu run its course."
Truth: For most healthy people, the flu will make you feel sick for about 7 to 10 days and then it will go away. But some groups of people can get very sick from the flu. This includes:
- children under the age of 5
- people who are living with health conditions like diabetes
- people over the age of 65
- people who are pregnant
If you have flu symptoms and belong to one of the groups listed above, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. They can do tests to see if you actually have the flu. They might also prescribe you medications to lower your risk of getting very sick and having to go to the hospital.
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