The truth about the flu, vaccine

Infectious disease expert sets record straight about common flu myths


JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Doctors are keeping an eye out for the flu but so far they're not treating many patients with the illness.

In Nassau County at the CareSpot in Yulee doctors are treating strep throat, upper respiratory infections, and sinus infections.

In Clay County at the CareSpot in Middleburg  doctors are treating bronchitis, strep throat and no flu.

Doctors at Healing Arts Urgent Care in St Johns County haven't seen any flu yet but they're ready.     One of the doctors wanted parents to know that there are new recommendations for kids 6 months to 8 years old.  You want to talk with doctor but according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices children in this group might need two doses of the vaccine.
The questions this committee says needs to be asked. "How many doses has a child had previously?"   If the answer is two or more doses, at any time in their life, then they only need one dose. If a child has had only had one dose or less, they  need to come back for a second dose 4 weeks after the first for maximum immune response

Each year influenza, or the flu, kills thousands of people and makes millions more miserable. The flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu. Outbreaks happen as early as October, so it's important to get vaccinated early. However, there are lots of myths out there about the flu shot.

Here are four common myths and truths about the flu vaccine:

Myth 1: A flu shot will give you the flu

The flu shot is killed virus that is unable to cause disease. Flu mist cripples the virus so that it is unable to cause disease.

"It's really impossible to get the flu from the flu vaccine," explained Susan Rehm, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic. "People who do actually come down with influenza sometime after getting the vaccine, it may be because it takes 2-4 weeks for the vaccine to work."

Myth 2: The flu causes diarrhea and vomiting

Lots of viruses circulate this time of year, but not all of them are the flu. Classic flu symptoms include severe aches, headaches, fever, chills and fatigue. They often come on suddenly. The so-called "stomach flu" is a myth.

"Influenza is a serious respiratory infection," said Rehm. "Although children can sometimes get nausea, vomiting and diarrhea with influenza, it's very unusual for adults."

Myth 3: If I get vaccinated twice, I'll get added immunity

Research has not demonstrated a benefit of receiving more than one dose during an influenza season, even among elderly persons with weakened immune systems. Except for some children, only one dose of flu vaccine is recommended each season.

Myth 4: Flu shots don't work

Scientists can't always predict which flu strain will be widespread, but the vaccine does provide protection.

"The only vaccine that doesn't work well is one you don't get and it is variable from year to year as to how much protection we get from flu vaccine, but getting a vaccine is a lot better than not getting a vaccine at all," said Rehm.