2023 Flu Season

10 Myths About the Influenza A Virus

The world has had its share of various kinds of flu, particularly the Influenza A virus. It has been a source of numerous misconceptions throughout history as it cuts across the world, and the Black community hasn’t been left out. There have been various reasons for the misconception of the flu. One of which is the cultural belief inherent in the Black community. Lack of education also contributes to the spread of myths. Other factors such as societal influence, history, and communication gaps also contribute to the adoption of myths. These misconceptions have been passed down the generations, leading to confusion and even overlooking the virus’s seriousness. To shed some light on the seriousness of the flu virus, here are 10 common myths about the flu.

  1. The flu is just a bad cold.
    Though having a cold is one symptom of the influenza A virus, the flu is way more severe than just the everyday cold. Cold, fever, body aches, and fatigue are typical signs of contracting the flu which could lead to hospitalization or, worse, death.
  2. Since I have gotten the flu shot, I don’t need to get it again.
    Even though some flu requires just one shot, and that’s all, it’s not that simple for the influenza A virus. Influenza viruses are constantly mutating and evolving, which leads to new strains. Having just one flu shot isn’t a good idea as you might be susceptible to a new strain, and the more reason you should update by taking a flu shot annually is to protect yourself from the prevalent flu.
  3. Only the young children and the elderly need to worry about the flu.
    This couldn’t be more wrong as flu is no respecter of anyone. While younger children and adults are the most susceptible and at higher risk of catching the flu, research shows that anyone can catch the flu and experience severe complications. As a matter of fact, healthy people can suffer from debilitating symptoms. This means everyone needs to be extra cautious by taking preventive measures.
  4. The flu shot can give you the flu.
    In some cultures, it is believed taking a flu shot can infect you with the actual flu. This is not true, as the flu shot cannot cause the flu. It is made from either an inactivated virus or a recombinant protein that cannot replicate in the human body. Although in some cases, some people might react to the shot with sore arms or mild fever, it is not the flu.
  5. I don’t need to cover my mouth when I cough as Influenza A is not contagious.
    One important thing you should know is that influenza A is highly contagious. It spreads through respiratory droplets from an infected person who coughs, sneezes, or talks. If you believe you are infected, you should cover your mouth and nose with tissue or your elbow if you don’t have one. This could reduce the chances of you infecting someone else.
  6. It is only stomach flu; I don’t need to worry about the respiratory flu.
    For so many people, stomach flu is often used to describe gastrointestinal illnesses, usually caused by different viruses. These illnesses are unrelated to influenza A, primarily affecting the respiratory system. Therefore, having one does not provide immunity against the other.
  7. Using Antibiotics can cure the flu.
    It is not advisable to think using antibiotics can cure influenza A virus:
    Antibiotics are good for curing bacteria infections but not viruses like influenza. Since a virus causes the flu, antibiotics will not treat it effectively. Only prescribed antiviral medications will work in this situation.
  8. I don’t need to take a flu shot because I am healthy and never sick.
    As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Even when you are healthy, getting the flu shot is the right thing to do as it will protect you and those around you. By getting vaccinated, you lower the chances of spreading the deadly virus to people, especially the vulnerable ones, such as the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
  9. Natural remedies are more effective than the flu vaccine.
    While some natural remedies can be quite effective in alleviating flu symptoms like colds and fever, they do not prevent or completely cure the virus. Taking the flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself against the influenza A virus and its potential complications.
  10. It’s too late to get the flu shot once the flu season has started.
    It is never too late to protect yourself by taking the vaccine. Even when the flu season has started, getting the flu shot can still provide some level of protection. The vaccine could take up to two weeks to build a wall of immunity in your body. So, the earlier, the better.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that about 37% of all Black people got immunized during the 2015-16 influenza season, compared to 45% of Whites. The black population bears a disproportionate burden of chronic illnesses since they are predisposed to complications, hospitalizations, and early death. Individual attitudes, beliefs, society as a whole, and even healthcare processes all contribute to this disparity. In other to stop this trend it is important for the black community to take immunization seriously and disregard the myths that has hold them back.
If you feel you’re experiencing flu symptoms, please don’t wait! Get in touch immediately with a healthcare practitioner for medical assistance. Remember, staying informed, taking preventive measures, and getting vaccinated are the best ways to protect yourself and others during flu season.

If you are a caregiver, please download our free Caregiver Flu-Free Zone Poster.

Also, download a copy of our Shield Our Roots 2023 Flu Vaccine Poster.

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About the author

Adeoluwa Agunlejika

Adeoluwa is an accomplished professional blog writer with a deep passion for health and wellness. His expertise spans a comprehensive range of well-being topics, including nutrition, fitness, and mental health strategies. Outside of his writing endeavors, Adeoluwa is an avid football fan, often found enjoying matches during his leisure time.

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