Many families are experiencing flu this season, even though they got their flu shots early. There are two types of influenza vaccines this season: Trivalent and Quadrivalent. While they are both effective, the Quadrivalent vaccine includes 4 strains of flu virus, making it easier to offer protection against both the A and B types of virus, while the Trivalent vaccine includes only 3 strains.
The manufactures of the Quadrivalent vaccine, which covers all four common strains for this season, experienced some difficulties in distribution, causing a delay. Some pharmacies and distributors in the Austin area reached for the readily available Trivalent vaccine in order to provide customers with a vaccine early in the season, so those who received their flu shot early were not protected from the 4th strain of the virus.
At PCRR, we decided to wait for the Quadrivalent version to be available, to insure our patients would have the increased protection it offers. Below I’ve listed the top 10 flu myths for you to review so that you can be informed.
Flu Myth #1: The seasonal flu is harmless
The flu sometimes causes more than missed school and work days. The virus hospitalizes 200,000 people and kills 3,0000-49,000 people every year! That’s close to the number of women killed by breast cancer every year. There is no need for hospitalizations and deaths because the flu can be prevented with a simple vaccine or nasal spray.
Flu Myth #2: The flu vaccine can give you the flu
It is impossible for the flu vaccine to give a person the flu. The flu vaccine contains a dead virus and the nasal spray, FluMist is engineered to remove parts of the virus that can make a patient sick. In blind studies where half of people received the flu vaccine and half received a placebo, the only difference was a sore arm and redness at the injection site among people who received the actual flu shot.
Flu Myth #3: There is no treatment for the flu
There is no cure for the flu but there are antiviral medications that can make you feel better faster. Your doctor may prescribe Tamiflu, which comes in pill form or Relenza, which is inhaled. These medications will decrease the time that you are sick and will make you less contagious to others.
Flu Myth #4: Antibiotics can fight the flu
Antibiotics only fight bacterial infections. The flu is a virus and can’t be cured with antibiotics. If your child is given antibiotics when he or she has the flu, it may cause more harm than good. Every year, children visit the emergency room due to misuse of antibiotics. If antibiotics are given when they aren’t needed and a child develops a bacterial infection, the infection may become resistant to antibiotics. If you are given an antibiotic, take all of the recommended doses and don’t share antibiotics or use leftovers from last season’s illness.
Flu Myth #5: The flu is only dangerous for the elderly
Research shows that only five percent of flu-related deaths are among the elderly. The majority of deaths from complications from the flu are among younger people with stronger immune systems.
Flu Myth #6: “Stomach flu” is a form of influenza
The stomach “flu” is not influenza and is not caused by the flu virus. The stomach flu may come from a variety of sources and is characterized by diarrhea and vomiting. People with the flu virus may experience these symptoms but they will also experience fever, cough, congestion, body aches and exhaustion.
Flu Myth #7: If you get the flu, you can’t get it again during that flu season
Every year, people get infected with Type A or Type B of the flu virus. If you have flu, you could get another strain in the same season. Every time you become sick with the flu, you risk spreading it to others.
Flu Myth #8: You can skip years between flu vaccinations
Most vaccines offer long-lasting protection. However, the flu virus changes every year so it is important to get immunized for that year’s strand of flu virus. Scientists must develop a new vaccine yearly to protect from the flu.
Flu Myth #9: If you haven’t gotten the seasonal flu vaccine by November, there’s no point getting vaccinated
The flu virus peaks in February or sometimes March so by getting vaccinated you are protecting yourself for the entire flu season. Since the 1980s, the flu peak has occurred mainly in February.
Flu Myth #10: Cold weather causes the flu
The flu is a virus and cold weather can’t give you a virus. The flu tends to occur in colder months but being outside will not make you sick. Experts agree that people get the flu in colder months because they spend more time inside in closer contact with others.
Don’t wait to get the whole family their flu vaccines! While you are here, we can give your child a well-child checkup and make sure he or she is current with all other vaccinations.