Separating flu facts from fiction
There is a lot of superstition and nonsense surrounding the flu virus and vaccines, say experts. Here’s what you need to stop believing now.
Myth: You’re only contagious when you have a fever
A fever is a sign your body is fighting invading viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens – but you’re not well the moment your fever disappears. “Some people take cough syrup or Tylenol, which can reduce fever. You think your fever is gone, but you’ve only taken medication to reduce it,” says Dr Saralyn Mark, MD, president & CEO of SolaMed Solutions, LLC. Despite your normal temperature, you could very well still be sick – and sharing the virus.
Plus, Dr Mark says, the older you are, the less likely you are to have a high fever. “I’ve had older patients that were so ill they were in shock, but they didn’t have a fever,” she says. “They just don’t have the ability to mount a fever, so I tend not to use it as an indicator.”
Myth: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine
Experts stress again and again that this myth isn’t true, and yet it is the most common – and a most dangerous – misconception. The confusion is due to the fact that it can take a couple of weeks for protection to kick in, says Robin Jacobson, MD, paediatrician. “Since people get the flu shot usually during cold and flu season, it is possible to get sick around the time you are getting a flu shot.”