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Flu Myth #3: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.

This is the flu myth most likely to drive experts bonkers. “There is simply no way that the flu vaccine can give you the flu,” says Hay. “It’s impossible.”

Why? For one, injected flu vaccines only contain dead virus, and a dead virus is, well, dead: it can’t infect you. There is one type of live virus flu vaccine, the nasal vaccine, FluMist. But in this case, the virus is specially engineered to remove the parts of the virus that make people sick.

Despite the scientific impossibility of getting the flu from the flu vaccines, this widespread flu myth won’t die. Experts suspect two reasons for its persistence.  One, people mistake the side effects of the vaccine for flu. While side effects to the vaccine these days tend to be a sore arm, in the past, side effects often felt like mild symptoms of the flu. Two, flu season coincides with a time of year when bugs causing colds and other respiratory illnesses are in the air.  Many people get the vaccine and then, within a few days, get sick with an unrelated cold virus. However, they blame the innocent flu vaccine, rather than their co-worker with a runny nose and cough.

Flu Myth #4: There is no treatment for the flu.

Two antiviral drugs are highly effective against the flu: Tamiflu, in pill form, and Relenza, which is inhaled. These drugs are most effective if taken within 48 hours of your first flu symptoms. But the drugs are beneficial even if taken 48 hours after symptom onset.

Neither Tamiflu nor Relenza cures the flu. But they can reduce the amount of time you’re sick by one or two days and make you less contagious to others. These drugs work with both the typical strains of seasonal flu as well as swine flu.

 

Flu Myth #5: Antibiotics can fight the flu.

Antibiotics only fight bacterial infections. Flu -- whether it’s typical seasonal flu or swine flu -- is not caused by bacteria, but by a virus. So antibiotics have absolutely no effect on any kind of flu. But this message just won’t sink in for some people.

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