THE FLU: What You Need to Know
Flu Facts and Myths
Summer, spring, fall, and winter aren’t the only seasons of the year. Flu season also takes over Nevada and the rest of the country, with activity increasing in October and often lasting all the way through May. With the help of the CDC, we’re going to help you figure out what exactly the flu is and how you may be able to prevent it. We’ll even bust a few flu myths!
What is the Flu?
The flu (aka: influenza) is a contagious virus that affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the lungs. Cases vary from mild to severe, even fatal. The flu is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing and talking.
What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?
The flu is infamous for its sneak attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. One day you feel fine and the next you may be in bed with one or all of the following symptoms:
Runny or stuffy nose
Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
*Not everyone with the flu will have a fever
Flu sufferers are most contagious in the first three to four days of symptoms, sometimes even a day before they start!
How Can I Prevent the Flu?
No one is immune to the flu, but here are a few steps you can take to help prevent it:
- Get the flu vaccine. It may reduce flu-related illnesses as well as complications from the flu.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and/or sneeze. One single sneeze can send 3,000 infectious droplets flying through the air!
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Clean household surfaces. Cold and flu viruses can live up to 24 hours on hard surfaces like countertops, desks and tables.
- Wash your hands often.
What Is Herd Immunity?
Our parents may have warned us against following the herd, but this is one time our desire to join the crowd may benefit us. Herd immunity protects us from infectious diseases due to the number of people immune to them. The more the “herd” is immune to things like the flu, the safer we all may be from a potential outbreak.
Think of it this way. When you get the flu shot you may be protecting your loved ones, especially those who are more vulnerable. The more people who are immunized, the more power we have to protect our community and our very own families.
There are various misconceptions surrounding the flu and the flu vaccine. How do you know what’s true? Here are the facts about some of the top flu myths:
THE FLU VACCINE CAN GIVE YOU THE FLU.
Flu shots are either made from inactivated (aka: killed) flu viruses, or by using a single gene from a flu virus and not the entire virus. Both produce an immune response without causing infection.
IT’S BETTER TO GET THE ACTUAL FLU THAN THE FLU VACCINE.
The flu can be very serious, and any infection comes with a potential risk of complications. It may hit younger children, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions especially hard. A flu vaccine may help reduce the severity of the flu and decrease flu complications (if contracted).
YOU DON’T NEED TO GET THE FLU SHOT EVERY YEAR.
Your immune protection from a vaccine weakens over time, so the CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated every year for prime flu protection.
Want more? Check out additional myths and misconceptions.
No one wants the flu. It may lead to varying degrees of illness and cause you or your children to miss days of work or school. Prevention is key! To learn more, click here.
If you have a life-threatening situation, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.