Thursday, October 6, 2016

Flu Myths

It’s that time of year again! Aside from cold weather, winter is often accompanied by sniffles, coughs, and a variety of other illnesses.  While we try our hardest to avoid fall and winter’s vicious illnesses, sometimes it is unavoidable. This is why it is important to cover all of our bases and remain healthy and safe, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. 

The flu, or influenza, is “a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, and catarrh, and often occurring in epidemics” (Oxford Dictionaries). Fortunately, with the flu shot, our chances of catching the flu decreases drastically. The flu shot not only protects ourselves, but also our community from spreading a potentially harmful epidemic. Flu shot season is October through January. However, the earlier you get it, the better your chances are of NOT catching the flu and spreading it to others.

When and where do we get the flu shot?
Luckily for EIU students and staff, a flu shot clinic will be offered on October 12th from 9 AM to 4 PM in the MLK Union. Faculty, staff, and retiree shots will be given by the Coles County Health Department in the Bridge Lounge. Student shots will be provided by EIU Health Service in the University Ballroom. Be sure to bring your Panther Card to take advantage of this FREE opportunity!

Flu Shot Myths vs. Facts
Immunizations, specifically the flu shot, have been a hot topic in the media over the past year. Unfortunately, many people have been given “facts” about the shot that are not actually accurate.  These "facts" can sabotage our perceptions of immunizations and ultimately effect our decision to get the shot. Let's talk more about those "facts" in detail.

MYTH: "The flu is just like a bad cold."
FACT: Influenza (flu) is far more dangerous than a bad cold. It's a disease of the lungs, and it can lead to pneumonia. Each year about 114,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and about 20,000 people die because of the flu. The flu poses the largest risk to children age 2 or younger and adults age 65 or older.

FACT: Flu vaccines are made from killed influenza viruses. These viruses cannot give you the flu.

MYTH: "Even if I get a flu shot, I can still get the flu."
FACT: This can happen, but the flu shot usually protects most people from getting ill. It's is important to note that the flu shot will not protect you from other viruses, even if those illnesses have flu-like symptoms.

MYTH: "The vaccine isn't 100% effective, so I'm better off getting the flu."
FACT: No vaccine is 100% effective. However, if you get a flu shot but still get the flu, you are at a significantly decreased risk to get sick than you would be without protection. 

MYTH: The side effects are worse than the flu."
The worst side effect you're likely to experience is a sore arm. Allergic reactions to the flu shot are rare and often far less severe than complications from influenza.

FACT: "Not everyone can take the flu shot."
If you are allergic to eggs (used in making the vaccine); are very ill with a high fever; or have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past, a flu shot may not be in your best interest.

MYTH: "Only the very old and sick need the flu shot."
FACT: Both adults and children who are in good health need a flu shot to stay healthy. Even if you aren't at high risk of complications, you should get a flu shot to prevent the flu and to protect everyone you live with and  come in contact with.

MYTH:  "December is too late to get a flu shot."
FACT: The flu shot can be given before or during the flu season.  While the best time to get a flu shot is October or November, a flu shot in December will still protect you against the flu.





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