Experts address common flu myths
HOUSTON, Texas — It turns out that the Mayan prophecy on the end of the world was a myth, and now experts at Baylor College of Medicine are tackling other common myths, these related to the flu.
Dr. Pedro Piedra, professor of molecular virology and microbiology and pediatrics at BCM, addresses common myths about influenza and influenza vaccines:
Myth: Influenza infection is just a nuisance. On average, five to 20 percent of the individuals living in the United States are infected each year with influenza, causing millions of medical visits, over 200,000 hospitalizations and approximately 40,000 deaths.
Myth: Influenza vaccines do not work. Influenza vaccines prevent influenza infection. Like all vaccines, they do not prevent all the infections.
Myth: Influenza vaccines cause the flu and make me sick. The live attenuated influenza vaccine can cause mild respiratory infection in a small number of persons, generally with the first vaccine dose. The inactivated influenza vaccine can cause mild soreness at the injection site shortly after receiving the vaccine. These are expected reactions and they are mild in most individuals when they do occur.
Myth: I do not need the influenza vaccine because I am healthy. Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, whether you are healthy or have a chronic medical condition.
Myth: I cannot receive the vaccine because I am pregnant. The inactivated influenza vaccine is recommended for women during pregnancy, which means you can be vaccinated during the first, second or third trimester.
Myth: I have to see a doctor to receive the influenza vaccine. Adults can generally receive the vaccine at neighborhood grocery and drug stores. For children, influenza vaccines are generally given at the doctor’s office and in some schools.