6 Common Myths About the Flu and Flu Vaccinations


Flu season is upon us, and Genesee Health Plan wants to make sure you and your family members have the information and resources you need to be prepared for flu season and to protect yourself against the influenza virus.

Did you know that every year between November and March, hundreds of thousands of Americans get the flu? Last winter alone, more than 5,000 Genesee County residents became sick from the virus, according to a 2017 report by the Genesee County Health Department.

The team at the Genesee Health Plan wants to help dispel common myths about the flu and provide you with the information you need to stay healthy during the winter months.


Myth #1: You can get the flu from the vaccine.

Fact: The flu vaccine is an inactivated or weakened virus that cannot give you the flu. While some people may say they experience symptoms after getting the flu vaccine, they were likely already infected with the virus before getting their flu shot. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incubation period for the flu virus is an average of two days, so you may already have the virus before you experience symptoms.


Myth #2: Only babies and seniors need to be vaccinated.

Fact: Everyone should get the flu vaccine. Anyone age six months or older can get a flu shot, and it’s the best way to protect yourself from the virus. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to kick in, so the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting your flu shot before flu season begins. It’s also recommended for adolescents over age 11 and adults to receive their Tdap immunization, especially if they are around babies age 12 months or younger, to help prevent the spread of whooping cough.


Myth #3: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.

Fact: The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get the vaccine every year. New flu vaccines are released every year to help protect against the rapidly changing flu virus.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, your body develops antibodies that protect you from flu viruses. However, those antibodies can decline over time, which is why it’s important to get a flu shot every year.


Myth #4: All you need is a flu vaccine to be protected from the flu.

Fact: While the flu vaccine can protect against the flu virus, it’s also important to take steps to guard your health during flu season. Continue healthy habits such as washing your hands frequently and carrying a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. It’s also important to get vaccinated so that you don’t spread the virus to those around you.


Myth #5: You can catch the flu by going out into the cold without wearing a coat.

Fact: The only way you can catch the flu is by being exposed to the virus. The reason some people think you can catch the flu from cold weather is that flu season coincides with the winter months.


Myth #6: The flu is the same as the stomach flu.

Fact: Influenza, commonly called the flu, is not the same as the “stomach flu” which is actually called gastroenteritis. The influenza virus attacks your body’s upper respiratory system, whereas gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and causes symptoms such as cramping, nausea and vomiting.

Influenza is also different from the common cold. Although both are viral infections that have similar symptoms, influenza is much worse and you are likely to run a high fever in addition to experiencing a cough, nasal congestion, sore throat and body aches and in severe cases, it can lead to death.

For info on local vaccination resources, visit geneseehealthplan.org or call 844.232.7740.


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