Flu season is once again upon us and, as a nurse, I feel like this warrants a blog. There are some common misconceptions about the flu. My personal favorite is one that we’ve all heard – “I got the flu shot once and it gave me the flu”. This is absolutely 100% impossible. The flu vaccine is NOT a live virus, making it scientifically impossible for you to get the flu from it. If you get sick after getting the flu shot, it is purely coincidental; you were likely brewing some sort of viral illness prior to receiving it.
This brings me to my next point: not every illness/virus/cold someone gets during flu season is the flu. People tend to call whatever they contract the flu. The only way to know with 100% certainty that you have the flu is to be tested. It’s a nasal swab; it’s not pleasant, I’m not going to lie. At the Urgent Care that I work at on the weekends we do rapid flu tests right there; results within 10 minutes. How’s that for service? Other facilities send the swabs to the lab and you’ll have your results back within a few hours. If it comes back negative, you likely have some other viral illness that’s going around. I know, I know….no one likes to hear “it’s just a virus”. Bear in mind that the flu is a virus; these things just need to run their course. No antibiotic will make any of it go away. Treatment is rest, fluids, Tylenol…. the usual. **IF** you are diagnosed within 48 hours of the start of the symptoms, there is Tamiflu. Tamiflu is an antiviral that will lessen the symptoms and duration of the flu. It is only effective if started within the first 48 hours.