The Flu: Fact vs. Fiction

Flu Season – Fact or Fiction?

You can get the flu from getting the flu shot:

FICTION – Some people get a little soreness, feel achy, or experience a low-grade temperature after their vaccine. This means that your body is recognizing the particles and forming a response. It is working! These mild symptoms can be easily blocked (without reducing the effectiveness) by taking some ibuprofen the day of the vaccine and another dose the next morning.

Antibiotics cannot help me when I have the flu:

FACT – unfortunately, antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial illnesses.  Since the flu is a virus, antibiotics won’t do the trick.  If you are diagnosed with the flu, are prescribed Tamiflu, you should notice a marked improvement of your symptoms within an hour or so of the first dose, but don’t expect them to completely go away. 

Symptoms of the flu are identical to having a cold:

FICTION – it’s true that a cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by completely different viruses.  A cold can be caused by any of 200+ viruses, while the flu is only caused by 3 types of influenza virus.  The effects of the flu are usually more severe than a cold and can lead to more serious complications, such as pneumonia.

Once you’ve had the flu, you’re immune:

FICTION - If you end up in the hospital for influenza, at discharge, you will need to get a flu shot if you haven’t had one. Some might say, “Wait, didn’t I just have the flu?” Yes, but now you are immune to only one strain. There are still three more common strains to protect against. Every year, we see (unvaccinated) people who get the flu twice—from two different strains, and the second time around is far more severe because the immune system hasn’t had a chance to recover.

Flu shots are expensive:

FICTION – flu shots at retail pharmacies and clinics are 100% covered by MOST plans.  Check your plan details or call the number on your ID card to be sure you’re covered at your chosen clinic.  Remember to bring your UHC member ID card with you to the pharmacy or provider and have them bill the flu shot as a medical claim. You can search for flu shots near you by visiting https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/health-topics/flu-shots