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Many people think they understand the flu, but you’d be surprised by how many misconceptions surround this topic. Tell us if you think these 5 flu myths are true or false?

1. Flu only affects the very young, very old and unhealthy people.

Being healthy doesn’t make you immune to the flu. In fact, every year 5-20% of adults get the flu—a much larger percentage than adults in high-risk groups.1 A healthy adult, however, has a lower risk of suffering from severe flu complications than young children, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems.2


2. You can get the flu from a flu vaccination.

The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. Flu shots are made with either inactivated virus or no flu virus at all, so they are not infectious. The nasal spray flu vaccine is made with attenuated (weakened) live flu virus. Both flu shot and nasal spray vaccines boost your immune response against exposure to flu viruses, but do not cause flu illness itself.

It’s possible, however, to get sick shortly after getting vaccinated—that’s because it takes two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies in the vaccine to form in your body and protect you against the influenza virus.3 That’s why we recommend getting your flu shot as early as possible!


3. A flu is just a bad cold.

The flu and the common cold share certain similarities, but they are very different. The flu is a much more serious illness that can lead to severe complications such as meningitis, pneumonia and, in certain cases, death. Learn more about the difference between these two illnesses here.


4. You get the flu from being in cold weather.

This is another classic flu myth that’s simply not true. Going outside in the cold without the proper winter attire might give you shivers and frostbite, but it won’t give you the flu. Only the dreaded influenza virus will give you the flu. This is a common misconception because flu season coincides with the winter months. That said, please ensure you bundle up and stay warm during the winter months.


5. The flu includes gastrointestinal symptoms.

The flu is terrible, but there is a silver lining—it doesn’t usually cause digestive troubles. Vomiting and diarrhea are typically symptoms of an ailment commonly referred to as the “stomach flu.” Stomach flu is in no way related to the flu virus.4



The information in this article is presented strictly for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please see your health care provider if you have any questions about your condition, medication, or treatment.


Seasonal influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a severe infection in the airways affecting the nose, throat, and lungs.

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