Have you ever felt your nose running faster than Usain Bolt with congestion that doesn’t stop? Have you felt like you were swallowing rocks while your head was pounding? Or maybe your muscles felt like you instantly aged 5 decades? You may have been experiencing a case of influenza. Influenza, mostly known as the “flu”, is an upper respiratory illness that is very contagious and is caused by influenza viruses. The flu averages 3 million cases a year and last year, it took the lives of 80,000 Americans in the early Winter. It was the worst the flu has been in years. The flu spreads quite easily and those infected can spread it before they have even had the chance to experience the symptoms themselves. The flu shot is your best chance of preventing yourself from getting the flu.
What are the Facts?
Here are some of the facts pertaining to the flu as well as the flu shot
• October to May is flu season.
• Antibiotics cannot be used to treat or prevent the flu.
• As mentioned, a person can pass on the flu without even feeling sick yet, but you are most contagious within 3-4 days after the illness begins.
• A person will start feeling the symptoms within a week after being infected.
• Symptoms can arise fast and abruptly.
• The flu spreads easily through droplets made by people when they sneeze, cough, or talk.
• Anyone over 6 months is eligible for the flu shot.
• Even after the flu season begins, you can still get a flu shot to help protect yourself and others.
Common Misconceptions and Myths
I got a flu shot but I still got the flu!
• There is the chance that a person can get the flu because they may have already been exposed to the virus before getting the shot. For example, an individual may have contracted the virus within the one week period that it develops in the body before the symptoms present themselves. The flu shot needs about two weeks to build immunity in the body by injecting an inactive strain of the virus into muscle tissue. Getting a flu shot does not give a person the flu.
• Individuals may believe that they have gotten the flu, but it usually ends up being the common cold or other symptoms that may resemble the flu.
I got the flu shot, but I don’t feel so good…
• Most common side effects of the flu shot are soreness, redness, or swelling in the area the shot was received. There is also the chance for a low-grade fever or headaches, but all of these usually go away within a couple of days.
Are the “flu” and “stomach flu” related?
• Nope! People just use the term “stomach flu” as a way to describe the illness, however they are unrelated. The flu refers to the upper respiratory infection.
Do vaccines cause Autism?
• Vaccines do not cause Autism. 9 studies completed by the CDC in 2003 have showed no correlation.
I got the flu shot last year, I don’t need it this year.
• The virus strain that causes the flu changes every year and so the flu shot is altered annually to prevent the new strain from causing the flu.
Flu shots can only be given from my doctor right?
• Nope! Your local Sunray Drugs pharmacist may administer one to you!
• Fever (up to 104°F)
• Sore throat
• Runny nose or a stuffy nose
• Muscle and body aches
• Tiredness or fatigue
• Possible vomiting or diarrhea
• Drink plenty of fluids (water, hot tea)
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist about taking over the counter medications (decongestants, cough suppressants, etc.)
• Take long, hot showers
o Prescription only medication
o An individual may take this if they are over 2 weeks old.
o This will only work within the first 2 days of flu symptoms.
o It can also be used to help prevent the flu over the age of 1 year, but it is not a substitute for the flu shot.
Remember, flu shots are your best shot at protection!
Contact your doctor or your local Sunray Drugs pharmacist to schedule your flu shot today!
This article was written by student pharmacist Christopher Cardace.