Mary Jo DiLonardo
December 5, 2014
Is it a cold or the flu? Can the flu shot give you the flu? See how much you know about the flu and the flu vaccine.
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The flu shot can give you the flu.
The flu vaccine is made with inactivated flu virus, meaning it can’t make you sick. The most common side effect is redness or soreness on your arm where you got the shot. The nasal spray flu vaccine is a weakened virus and it also can’t cause the flu.
The flu shot pretty much guarantees you won't catch the flu.
The effectiveness of the flu shot varies each year. The vaccine for 2014-2015 is about 60 percent effective, says the CDC. That means it cuts your chances of getting the flu by more than half. Most flu shots protect against three types of the flu virus that the CDC determines will be the most common each season. However, more than three strains of the flu could circulate in your community.
You need antibiotics for:
Both the cold and the flu are viral infections, and antibiotics battle bacterial infections. However, sometimes you can develop a secondary infection. See your doctor if you have a fever over 103 degrees F or if symptoms get worse or drag on for more than a week.
Washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself against the flu.
Washing your hands is an excellent way to help prevent catching and spreading germs. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the absolute best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting a flu shot every year.
How long should you wait to go back to school or work after your fever breaks?
Your fever should be gone at least 24 hours — and that’s without the help of a fever-reducer — before you venture out into the real world again. If you go when you’re feverish, you risk spreading your germs. Plus, you’ll feel even worse.
When is the peak month of flu season?
Don’t worry if it’s already the end of the year and you didn’t get your flu shot. Even though flu season starts as early as October, the peak month isn’t until February. And for some unlucky people, it can hit as late as May. But the best time to get a flu shot is as soon as it’s available where you live.
What should you do?
If your body is working to fight off infection, give it all the nutrients it needs to do its job. There’s never a good time to hold back on nutrition. When you have a fever, it’s especially important to make sure you have plenty of fluids, too. They will help counter any dehydration from all that sweat and mucus your body is making.
You should get the flu shot even if you're young and healthy.
You might feel healthy now, but if you get the flu you won’t. Even young, healthy people can get very sick from the flu — and pass it on to babies or to relatives who might not be so young or so healthy. Everyone over 6 months should get vaccinated each season. There are a few exceptions, such as people who have egg allergies. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is:
People under age 2 or over 49 shouldn’t get the nasal spray vaccine. In kids age 2 to 8, the nasal spray vaccine may actually work better than the flu shot.
Antiviral flu drugs can shorten your symptoms by:
Antivirals are prescription medicines for flu that can ease your symptoms and shorten their duration. They work best if you take them within two days of getting symptoms and generally can cut about 1 to 2 days off the length of your illness. They can even help prevent serious flu complications.
You shouldn't get the flu shot if you have a cold.
It’s OK to get the flu shot if you just have a runny nose or other mild illness. Hold off if you have a fever. You can, however, get the nasal spray vaccine even if you have a mild respiratory infection and a fever. If you’re unsure, ask your doctor.
How fast can a sneeze travel?
Sneezes can travel faster than you drive you car on your way to the grocery store. And when you sneeze, you spread your germs as far as six feet away. Remember to cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, not your hands.
Flu viruses generally can't live on hard surfaces.
Watch that remote control and elevator button. Flu viruses can live from 2 to 8 hours on hard surfaces. Clean areas that are touched often — like door handles — with sanitizing wipes. And wash your hands all the time.
Who is the high-dose flu shot designed for?
The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is approved for people 65 and over. It has four times the amount of antigen (which prompts the body to make protective antibodies) in regular flu shots. It’s meant to trigger a stronger immune response to the vaccine. This immune response tends to weaken with age.
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