Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Flu" vs. Flu

This is the one time of year when I'm going to get all "nursey" on you...

Flu season is right around the corner here in Indy and it's around this time of year I hear the following(or something very similar):

"I am never going to get my flu shot again. Our whole family has been vomiting and having diarrhea all week. It happens every year, I get the flu shot and I still get the flu!!!"

I hear it every year and everywhere. From friends, patients at work, random people on the street, and it's guaranteed to be a Facebook post or a Tweet from at least one person. The bottom line is this: That statement is all kinds of wrong.

Here are the facts my friends:

  • The Flu (aka Influenza) is a respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and lungs. You can have high fever, coughing, body aches, sore throat and fatigue. The symptoms often come on quick and hit you hard. The seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect you from the Flu.
  • The "Flu" (notice my cute little quotation marks!!!) is not really the flu at all, it's really gastroenteritis. You could also call it the stomach flu if you want. It's the virus that gives you all the unpleasant tummy issues that most people don't want to talk about. The seasonal flu vaccine does NOT protect you from the "stomach flu." 
  • Also, the flu shot does NOT give you the flu-I hear that one a lot too! It is an inactivated virus (AKA not live). If you get sick after getting the shot it's most likely because you waited in a germ-infested waiting room for your turn to get vaccinated (The flu mist is a live vaccine, but you still will not get the flu from it. You can however get cold symptoms for a few days, mainly stuffy nose.).
Okay...I'm all done being nursey...consider it my one PSA for the year. If you've inadvertently used flu instead of "flu" no worries, it's a pretty common misunderstanding!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay healthy!

For more information on Influenza please check out the CDC website {HERE}

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