Separating flu facts from flu fiction

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seasonal flu activity in the U.S. is picking up steam and continues to increase as we approach the holidays.

According to Dr. Alan Taege, of Cleveland Clinic, the most effective way to protect ourselves against the flu is by getting a flu shot.

However, when it comes to the flu shot, he said many people mistakenly believe that it can make them sick.

“What many people will confuse is that when you get the vaccine, your body reacts to the vaccine, and may cause you to have a low-grade fever, some aches and fatigue for a day or two, but that’s not truly infection with influenza -- that’s just your body building antibodies,” Taege said.

Taege said having a mild reaction from the flu shot is actually a good sign because it means the body is reacting in the way that it’s supposed to.

Another misconception about the flu is that it’s no worse than a bad cold.

Taege said the flu is not a bad cold -- the flu is much worse and much more serious.

In fact, last season, the CDC reported that roughly 40 million people became ill with the flu and more than 36,000 people actually died as a result of flu complications.

Taege said some people think a flu shot is good for a couple of years, but it’s not.

“Influenza varies from year to year, and there’s a great deal of effort put in to trying to predict the types that we’re going to experience, and the vaccine is produced to match that anticipated type of influenza,” he said.

Taege also believes it’s never too late to get a flu shot -- even if you missed out on the fall flu shot cycle. As long as it’s still flu season, you can still get a vaccination to help lessen your chances of becoming ill.