This post is in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Orange County.
It’s Fall, and that means two things: an extra hour of sleep and a friendly reminder to get your flu shot ASAP. I spoke to Dr. Wendy Coling of Kaiser Permanente Orange County to debunk a few flu myths that I have heard throughout the years. In fact… some of them came from my mom!!! Like the whole thing about not going outside with your hair wet because you’ll get the flu, or walking outside barefoot – because you’ll get the flu. Turns out… FALSE!!! On both accounts.
Read on and see which other flu myths were debunked and take this as yet another friendly reminder to get your flu shot as soon as possible. Also, if you’re a Kaiser Permanente member, you don’t even need an appointment to get one. Many times, you’ll see a nurses’ station set up where you can go up and get your FREE flu shot. If you don’t see them, just let the receptionist know and they’ll help you out from there.
Flu myths debunked
If I’m allergic to eggs I can’t get the flu shot.
False. Every flu shot is safe to get regardless of the severity of egg allergy.
It’s not safe for pregnant women to get the flu shot.
False. It’s safe for pregnant women to get the flu shot in all trimesters of pregnancy. In fact, studies have shown that babies whose mom got the flu vaccine during pregnancy were 70% less likely to get the flu compared to babies with mothers who were not vaccinated.
Breastfeeding women cannot get the flu vaccine.
False. Breastfeeding women are encouraged to get the vaccine not only to protect themselves, but to protect the baby from exposure (because babies under six months cannot get the flu vaccine).
Getting a vaccine will make you catch the flu.
False. It’s impossible to get the flu from the flu vaccine. Sometimes, people will get muscle aches and a low-grade fever, but that’s the body building up the immunity against the flu.
If you eat healthy, you don’t need to be vaccinated.
False. Even healthy people and people who practice healthy lifestyles are still susceptible to the flu and are also at risk for the devastating consequences when they get the flu. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older.
If you get the flu vaccination you won’t need to do anything else.
False. The flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection, but it’s not 100%. Still practice good hand-washing and if you’re sick, make sure to wear a mask when you’re around other people to help prevent spreading it. It can be spread through respiratory droplets and contact.
The cold can turn into a flu if not caught early enough.
False. Colds are a separate virus separate from the flu. The flu virus has the potential to have more serious complications that, in some cases, can cause hospital admission, ICU admission, and even death.
You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
False. There are frequent mutations of the flu virus. The World Health Organization recommends new annual components of the flu vaccine based on what strains we are seeing in the world that year. It’s important to get the flu vaccine every Fall so that you have protection against the flu viruses that are active that season.
You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather with wet hair or walking outside barefoot when it’s cold.
False. The only way you can catch the flu is by being exposed to the flu virus.
Feed a cold, starve a fever.
False. The reality is that when you’re sick, you need to take care of yourself and stay well hydrated as much as you’re able. You will need to have good nutrition and good hydration.
Eat chicken soup to feel better faster.
Maybe. Some people find that eating chicken soup make them feel better, but much of that is probably more because it’s a warm liquid that sooths your throat and fights the chills. The warm liquid can also help break up congestion. One scientific study also found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties which may help.
You’ll need antibiotics if you have a high fever with the flu that lasts more than two days.
False. The flu is a virus and antibiotics are not helpful at all with the flu. Anti-viral medication, for example Tamiflu (or the generic version, Oseltamivir), and Relenza (or the generic version, Zanamivir) and Rapivab (or the generic version, Peramivir) are specific for the flu and may shorten the course or severity of the flu. Note that there is no major difference between generic and name brand. It’ll have the same active ingredient.
If you have the flu, getting the flu vaccine will make you heal faster.
False. It will not help you heal faster, but there are different strains of the flu so it’ll give you protection against the strains that you don’t have. Remember though, it takes two weeks to build immunity after getting the vaccine.
These are just a few flu myths we debunked with Dr. Coling, and she also had this as a reminder: make sure you get the flu vaccine BEFORE the flu hits your community (generally during the Winter). Get vaccinated in the Fall so your body will have to time to build immunity.
Want to share some of these myths? Use the graphic below!