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It's Flu Season: Separating Fact From Fiction

Flu Season Ahead Street Sign

According to the CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, there has been enough reported cases of the flu to officially mark the beginning of the flu season. “We’re seeing the beginning of the uptick start at least a month before we’d generally see it." He also states that "It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season, but there’s some good news: It appears the circulating strains are “a great match” for this year’s vaccine”.

As we get ready to battle the flu this year, it's important to know what is fact and what is fiction. Test your flu IQ and see how much you know about the flu.

If I get a flu shot, it will give me the flu.


There was a time in the late 1970's that the flu vaccine contained a live-virus version that could, in fact, cause a person to get sick. However, now, the injectable flu vaccine uses dead virus and "is made up of only parts of the flu virus, so it cannot in any way give you the flu," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

I only need a flu shot if I'm sick, elderly or very young.


The CDC, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated every year to prevent getting the flu.

The flu can be spread to people up to 6 feet away.


The most common way the flu virus spreads is through droplets that spread through coughing, sneezing or talking. It can also be spread when a healthy person touches a surface that has the flu virus on it. Keeping germs off of hands with soap or hand sanitizer, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces can limit contact with the virus.

If I don't feel sick, I'm not contagious.


Most healthy adults are contagious 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Symptoms can start anywhere from 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu virus to another person before you even know you are sick.

Being in the cold, or by a drafty window will give me the flu.


No. Getting cold will not cause, or make you more likely to get the flu. It's being in close contact with the virus that will make you sick, not the weather.

There's more than on type of flu.


There are two main types of flu virus: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that regularly spread in people are cause seasonal flu epidemics each year. Influenza A viruses can be broken down into different sub-types. Over the course of a flu season, different types (A & B) and subtypes (influenza A) of influenza circulate and cause illness.

The flu is the same as a bad cold.


The flu can be serious. It's a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). In the United States, about 200,000 people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die each year because of the flu. Influenza kills more Americans every year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.

When it comes to the flu, prevention is certainly the best medicine. Taking the right steps to avoid getting sick in the first place not only benefits you, but everyone around you.

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