When you spend enough time working around doctors and their patients, you hear a lot of very interesting bits and pieces about common illnesses like the flu. A lot of people believe things that they’ve heard, or carry oral traditions passed down from their parents, or simply misunderstand something that is otherwise factual.
We spoke with some of the SmartClinics GPs to put together a list of common misconceptions about the flu to help you know more about the flu than the average person. Here are our top 5 misconceptions about the flu.
- The flu shot can give you the flu.
This is a very common misconception about the flu shot. It probably arises from the fact that the flu vaccine is sometimes made using deactivated flu viruses or specific genetic components of the flu virus that trigger an immune response in the human body. However, the fact is, there is no active or viable influenza virus contained in any flu shot that you’re receiving via a needle.
- If I get sick this winter, it means that the flu shot didn’t work.
The flu vaccine has an extremely high effectiveness rate. Many people come down with symptoms similar to the flu and assume that the flu shot didn’t work. However, chances are good that if you find yourself with these symptoms, you most likely have a cold or a similar respiratory illness. If you find yourself feeling seriously unwell, you should absolutely get checked out by a GP or other medical professional. However, generally speaking, you stand a far better chance of avoiding flu infection if you’ve received a flu shot than if you have not.
- Healthy people don’t need to get a flu vaccine.
The flu can make even the healthiest people feel extremely unwell. It is a serious disease and can have an even more serious impact on anyone with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or heart conditions. The flu can play havoc with your immune system and leave you vulnerable to illness from other sources. It is also very non-discriminatory. Influenza can overwhelm healthy immune systems, so relying on your overall level of health to avoid getting the flu is unlikely to be a particularly effective strategy.
In order to stay healthy throughout the flu season, we strongly recommend that you get a flu shot.
- Some flu vaccines are better than others.
There are many types of flu vaccines, some more appropriate for different groups of people than others. However, generally speaking, all flu vaccines in a like-for-like comparison are equally as effective. Of course, the method in which you receive your vaccination may be more or less effective than others, depending on your personal factors such as age, health and any allergies you may have to components in some flu vaccines.
- No one dies from the flu anyway.
People absolutely do die from the flu. Each year, anywhere from around 500 to 4,000 Australians die from the flu. Different years and severities of flu strains produce different fatality levels. Young people, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems from other health concerns are more likely to die from the flu. However, of those that don’t die, many experience debilitating symptoms and require hospitalisation. It can greatly affect work and personal life and may leave a person open to infection with other illnesses.
Fast Flu Facts:
- The flu vaccine can reduce a child’s risk of requiring paediatric intensive care during flu season by up to 74%.
- Improved uptake of the flu vaccine has led to a reduction of around 40% in adult hospitalisations for flu-related health issues.
- Adults who receive a flu shot may reduce their risk of being admitted to the ICU with the flu by up to 82%.
- Among pregnant women, a flu shot can reduce the chances of being hospitalised with the flu by up to 40%.
- Among those hospitalised with the flu, those who have received a flu shot are 59% less likely to require admittance to the ICU, and of those who are admitted, those with the flu shot require on average 4 fewer days of hospitalisation.
Book Your Flu Shot Now
Getting the flu shot can help maintain your health through the flu season and ensure that you’re able to continue functioning happily and healthily. Additionally, by getting the flu vaccine you are greatly reducing your chances of getting the flu and potentially spreading it those around you, such as workmates, family or even people on your commute.
Click here to find a SmartClinics Medical Centre near you and arrange a flu vaccine today.