Ask Dr. Nandi: Know the facts verses fiction of flu season

Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 09:40:45-04

As flu season gets underway, so do the flu myths. Knowing the facts verses fiction could possibly save your life.

Question: Fact or fiction: if you have an egg allergy you can’t get the flu shot?

The answer is fiction.  And I get why people are confused.  Because the CDC used to advise those with egg allergies to avoid the flu shot.  But that’s not true anymore.  However there are some precautions so here’s what I want you to know.   If eggs only caused hives, where your skin gets red and itchy, then it’s ok to get the flu vaccine anywhere.  But if eggs have caused reactions like vomiting, swelling, or problems with breathing, then you must get the flu shot in a medical setting where you’re supervised by a health care provider.  

Question:  Fact or Fiction: The injectable vaccine can cause the flu.

The answer is fiction again.  I know so many people believe the vaccine causes the flu, but it doesn’t.  Because flu vaccines given with a needle contain either killed viruses, which means they’re inactivated.  Or it’s made with a single gene that creates an immune response - but it still doesn’t cause an infection.  


Question: Fact or Fiction: Antibiotics help with the flu, especially if you have a fever.

This is fiction as well. Antibiotics fight bacteria which the flu is not, it’s a viral infection.   But it’s quite possible that complications of the flu could lead to a bacterial infection, and that’s when you might need antibiotics.  If you get the flu talk to your doctor right away about Tamiflu, it’s a medication that can treat influenza.  

Question: Fact or Fiction: If you’re young and healthy, you still need the flu shot.

This is fact.  You should still get the flu shot because serious complications, hospitalization and even death do happen to healthy people.  And a recent study found that kids who got the flu shot had a reduced risk of flu-associated death by 65% among healthy children.   Also, getting vaccinated can protect people around you, like babies and those with weakened immune systems. So please consider getting the flu vaccine, it can be given to those who are 6 months and older.