For any of you who have had the flu, you know how awful it can be! The achy muscles, fever, headache, sore throat, chills, and runny nose can keep you out of school and stuck in bed for days. To help you avoid the flu and stay happy and healthy, I wanted to share the truth behind two of the biggest myths I hear about the flu.
Myth #1: You don’t need a vaccine if you’re healthy, and if you do get a vaccine, it can actually give you the flu.
I know this is really two myths packed into one, but I always get a lot of questions about vaccines, so here’s the real information. Even if you’re totally healthy, you eat all your fruits and vegetables, and you get exercise every day, you can still benefit from getting a flu shot. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months old get a yearly flu shot.
As far as getting the flu from a vaccine, even though this is a commonly held belief, it’s actually not true. A flu vaccine is made from an inactive strain of the flu virus, so it can’t transmit the infection. However, the vaccine takes a week or two to protect you from the flu, so if you get the flu shortly after you got the vaccine, it just means you were going to get it anyways.
It is true that some people feel anxious about getting a shot, even if they know it is for a good reason. You might expect to feel emotionally or physically fatigued after getting the flu shot, so it is important to stay hydrated and get enough rest.
Myth #2: You get the flu from being out in the cold.
Growing up, I always heard that I would get the flu if I went out in the cold, especially if I had wet hair or I wasn’t bundled up. While it might not be much fun to go out with wet hair, you actually can’t catch the flu that way. The only way to get the flu is to be exposed to the influenza virus, which happens when you’re around sick people who have sneezed, coughed, or blown their noses.
How to Stay Flu-Free
There’s no way to guarantee you won’t get the flu, but there are a few simple things you can do that will really help keep you healthy. The MOST important thing is to wash your hands to get rid of germs. If you’re around people who are sneezing and coughing (like at school), wash your hands even more often than usual. Try to scrub them for 20 seconds, that way you make sure and get all the germs off. If you sing “Happy Birthday” and then the “ABCs”, that should be right at 20 seconds!
Stay happy. Stay healthy.