Flu Myths vs. Facts

Dr. Cindy Feely

In my daily practice at Primary Care Associates, I get asked many questions about the flu and the flu vaccine. Despite improved access to accurate, responsible information in the media and on the web, a number of myths about the flu and the vaccine still exist. So here it is, point-by-point, information for you to make informed choices for your healthcare.

Myth #1: The flu vaccine gives you the flu

Facts: The vaccine, including this year’s version, consists of a dead virus which cannot infect you. What it can do is make your body produce the antibodies necessary to fight that virus if you come in contact with a live version of it. The live virus is included in the Flu Mist – a nasal spray, not an injection – but it is engineered so that it will not make you sick.

Myth #2: If you weren’t vaccinated by November, there’s no point in getting it now

Facts: While we are seeing a large number of cases right now, the flu often doesn’t hit its peak until February or even March. And while it does take two weeks to be fully effective, the vaccine will help lessen the severity if you do get the flu.

Myth #3: There’s no treatment for the flu

Facts: There are two products on the market that are proven effective against the flu virus: Tamiflu (pill) and Relenza (inhaler). While these antivirals don’t cure the flu, they usually help to alleviate the symptoms and to get you out of bed a day or two earlier.

Myth #4: If I get the flu, I can take an antibiotic

Facts: The flu is caused by a virus. Antibiotics fight only bacterial infections. So antibiotics do absolutely nothing to fight the flu. Sometimes when you have the flu and your immune system is weakened, you can develop a secondary bacterial infection, which can be helped by an antibiotic. But taking an antibiotic for the flu is pointless.

So the bottom line is this: If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late. Make an appointment with one of our Primary Care Physicians today!

At Mount Sinai’s Primary Care Associates we have plenty of vaccines and doctors with plenty of availability for those who need a shot or if you need to be seen by a doctor. If you do have the flu, do not come to the emergency room unless it is a true emergency. Stay home, get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Cindy Cheng Feely, MD

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