4 Common Myths About The Flu

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: October 16, 2020

Myths and misconceptions are common when it comes to the flu. Bad advice and misinformation about the flu can spread as fast - or maybe faster - than the flu virus itself. Correcting false information is a vital component of flu prevention. The more accurate information people have about the flu, the better they can protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Here are some of the myths we hear most often and the facts that debunk them.
  1. The flu is just a bad cold.
    Symptoms of the flu and a cold are often similar, but the severity and duration of flu symptoms set it apart from a cold. Additionally, the flu can cause serious health problems or complications like pneumonia, organ failure, or even sepsis, none of which are associated with colds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate there were approximately 490,600 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths from the flu in the U.S. during the 2018-2019 flu season. In short, the flu can be dangerous, especially to those at high risk for flu-related complications.
  2. I got a flu shot last year, so I’m protected.
    Last year’s flu shot may not protect you this year for two reasons. Immunity from the flu vaccine declines over time, so it is critical to be vaccinated against the flu each year. Flu viruses also mutate, and the most common virus strains vary each season, so annual vaccination is the best way to protect yourself.
  3. Antibiotics can treat the flu.
    The flu is caused by a virus, so antibiotics, which fight bacteria, are ineffective against the flu. However, bacterial infections can develop while a person is sick with the flu, so a provider may prescribe antibiotics to fight the co-infection. For individuals suffering from the flu alone, antiviral drugs are available that can help reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms.
  4. The flu shot can cause the flu.
    This is false. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), flu vaccines contain viruses that are either weakened, inactivated, or recombinant (meaning it is made without the flu virus or eggs). Therefore, the flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. It is important to note that the flu vaccine takes about two weeks to work. Some people also experience mild symptoms after getting a flu shot. The most common side effects are soreness or redness at the injection site, but mild headaches, muscle aches, and low-grade fevers can also occur.

If you have questions about the flu, be sure to contact a healthcare professional to ensure you have accurate information. Contact your local Kroger Health Pharmacy or Clinic to get more information about the flu - you can also schedule an appointment for a flu shot for you and your family.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.