Occupational Health & Infectious Disease
Risk Management, Portland, OR
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
A flu vaccine can't give you the flu.
True. The flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. The viruses in the vaccine are either killed (flu shot) or weakened (nasal spray vaccine), which means they cannot cause infection.
The "stomach flu" and influenza are the same thing.
False. The flu is a respiratory (lung) disease, not a stomach or intestinal disease. The main symptoms of the flu are fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults.
Getting a flu vaccine in December or later is not too late.
True. CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available and that vaccination continues into December, January and beyond. Influenza activity usually peaks in February most years, but disease can occur as late as May.
Flu viruses change constantly which requires a new flu vaccine to be produced each year.
True. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on worldwide monitoring of influenza viruses.
Washing your hands is the best thing you can do to protect against the flu.
False. CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. However, preventative actions like covering your cough and washing your hands often are important everyday steps that can help stop the spread of germs.
The flu vaccine protects against three or four strains of flu.
True. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three or four main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Trivalent vaccine will remain available for the foreseeable future. Quadrivalent vaccine is becoming the standard.
The flu is typically spread through coughs and/or sneezes.
True. Flu virus is mainly spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes.
The flu is not a serious illness.
False. Flu is a serious contagious disease. Each year in the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and 36,000 people die from flu.
The flu vaccine is available as a shot or a nasal spray.
Generally True. Flu vaccine is available as a nasal spray. The nasal spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant. HOWEVER, nasal spray vaccine will not be available at all, for use during the 2016-2017 season because of concerns about its effectiveness.
You can spread the flu to others before you have symptoms.
True. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.