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Myths and realities surrounding the flu

If you have ever had the flu, you know how it can affect your well-being. It is a highly contagious viral infection that can sometimes have serious consequences for children and older people, and for some people at higher risk. It is also a disease that is surrounded by false beliefs that can affect your ability to prevent and treat it effectively.

Here are 10 common myths about the flu:

The flu isn’t a dangerous disease.

Reality:

At first glance, the flu may seem trivial, but it comes with symptoms that can last 5 to 10 days (fever, cough, muscle pain). It can have serious consequences, especially for people over 65, newborns, children and those at risk.

The flu ranks among the top 10 causes of death in Canada and is responsible for 12,200 hospital stays and 3,500 deaths each year.

The flu vaccine can give me the flu.

Reality:

The flu vaccine is made up of inactivated viral particles and cannot give you the flu.

The flu vaccine causes severe reactions and side effects.

Reality:

The flu vaccine is very safe and most people who get vaccinated have no side effects. You may experience mild pain at the injection site, or a fever and muscle pain 6 to 12 hours after the vaccine, but these latter symptoms disappear in 24 to 48 hours.

As with any vaccine or pharmaceutical product, an allergic or severe reaction is possible, but unlikely. If you experience severe symptoms (high fever, vomiting, breathing difficulties) for more than 48 hours, consult your doctor.

Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated.

Reality:

Being healthy does not make you immune to the flu. In fact, each year, 10%-20% of adults are infected with the influenza virus. However, if you are healthy, you are less likely to suffer serious complications caused by the flu.

If I’m exposed to cold temperatures, I can get the flu.

Reality:

This myth is a classic! The only way to get the flu is to be exposed to the virus. The flu is associated with cold weather because it coincides with the winter months, but cold temperatures have no influence on your risk of getting the flu.

I don’t need to be vaccinated against the flu every year.

Reality:

The influenza virus is constantly changing and its mutations are monitored by the World Health Organization (WHO), which adjusts the composition of the flu vaccine every year. Therefore, you need to get vaccinated every year to protect yourself against new forms of the virus.

The flu vaccine weakens the immune system.

Reality:

The vaccine strengthens your immune system by stimulating it to help you fight the flu virus when you are exposed to it. By getting vaccinated each year, you are more protected.

The flu vaccine protects you against viruses or bacteria that cause colds or the stomach flu.

Reality:

The flu virus is very different from the virus that causes colds or stomach illnesses (“stomach flu”). The flu vaccine helps protect you from the virus that causes the flu, but it does not protect you from viruses or bacteria that cause colds or gastrointestinal illnesses.

I’m pregnant, so I can’t be vaccinated against the flu.

Reality:

It is safe to get a flu shot during your pregnancy, and current Canadian guidelines recommend the flu shot for all pregnant women.

However, babies less than 6 months old (especially newborns) are more vulnerable to flu complications and cannot be vaccinated because their immune systems are not yet ready. Vaccinating their family members, especially their mothers, can help protect them and reduce their risk of infection.

I’m breastfeeding, so I have to avoid the flu shot.

Reality:

You can safely breastfeed your baby after receiving the flu shot.

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to call our customer service number at 1 833 590-2715.