Debunking 4 common flu virus myths

CLEVELAND - You've probably heard by now it's time to get your flu shot. But let's face it. Some of you will not get one because you think it will do more harm than good. Doctors will tell you in almost every case that's a myth.

Every flu season Dr. Dennis Cunningham, with Nationwide Children's Hospital, spends time talking to kids about prevention. He says if there's one group that catches, carries and infects more than any other -- it's children.

"Germs are pretty easy to pass around and flu is really contagious. It's very easy for one child to give it to another child and the next thing you know, they bring it home."

And they can bring it home purely by contact.

Myth 1: the flu is only spread by sneezing.
Doctors used a demonstration to show how quickly kids can spread almost anything. Toys were dusted with a powder invisible under normal light, but after sharing the toys for just a few minutes, you could see using a black light just how much the powder-like virus had spread.

Myth 2: you should wait until it's cold outside to get your flu vaccine.
"It turns out vaccinating people even in August will protect them throughout the entire flu season. This also includes the elderly, who typically have been the group people were most worried about," Dr. Cunningham said.

Myth 3: flu vaccines don't protect you from current strains.
Researchers work hard to stay one step ahead of the virus. "Every year there's two a strains that are picked and one B strain of influenza. So, we're going to be protected against everything that's likely to circulate," explained Cunningham.

Myth 4: you can actually catch the flu from a flu vaccine.
The vaccine can make you achy and leave your arm sore, but it will not give you the flu. It does take two weeks to build up immunity to the vaccine.

"True influenza, someone is sick in bed for a week. High, high fevers, achiness, everything hurts."

Doctors also say cleaning your hands often will help -- and it's very important to make sure kids get flu shots. Not only can they infect each other at school, but siblings, parents and grandparents too.

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