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Don’t let the flu bug bite
Can you separate flu myths from facts?

Take a shot at common health threats

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these immunizations for people ages 50 and older. Ask your doctor about your risk factors and specific needs.

VaccineHow often
Pneumococcal polysaccharide (pneumonia)one or two doses between ages 19 and 64 if risk factors are present; one dose for all people ages 65 and older if never vaccinated or vaccinated more than five years ago
Tetanus, Diphtheriaone-dose booster every 10 years for people ages 19 and older. Substitute Tdap, with pertussis (whooping cough) protection, for one Td booster.

Doctors may recommend older adults also be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); varicella (chicken pox); meningitis; shingles; and hepatitis A and B.

What you don’t know about the flu can be enough to make you sick—literally! How much do you know about the flu? See whether you’ve got the know-how to fight influenza by taking this true-or-false quiz.

  1. Since the flu season runs from November to April, it’s useless getting vaccinated after the season begins.

    False. While it’s best to get vaccinated in the fall, a shot in January can still help keep you healthy, especially during the flu’s peak in February.

  2. Getting the flu can make you seriously ill.

    True. Influenza can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. About 36,000 Americans—most ages 65 and older—die each year from the flu.

  3. Once you get a flu shot, you’ve done all you can to prevent flu.

    False. You can enhance your immune system’s ability to fight influenza by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising moderately, managing stress and avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

  4. Taking a multivitamin is the best thing you can do to avoid getting the flu.

    False. Getting vaccinated is your best flu-prevention strategy, reducing your chances of catching the flu by up to 80 percent.

  5. Flu is most often spread by intimate contact, like kissing.

    False. Flu is generally spread when people cough or sneeze virus-infected droplets into the air.

  6. Antibiotic medications aren’t helpful in treating flu symptoms.

    True. Influenza is a viral infection, so it can’t be treated with antibacterial antibiotics.

  7. The flu shot can actually cause you to get the flu.

    False. You won’t get the flu, but you may have minor side effects like a runny nose, headache, sore throat or cough.

  8. If you got a flu shot last year, you don’t need to get one this year.

    False. You need a flu vaccination every year, since a shot’s ability to protect you wears off. Plus, the flu vaccine is updated annually to include the most current strains of the flu.

  9. Not everyone should get a flu shot.

    True. The flu shot is not safe for people who are sick with a fever, who have egg allergies, who’ve had past severe reactions to flu shots or who have Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nervous- and immune-system disorder.

  10. You can only spread the flu when you have symptoms.

    False. You can spread the flu to others before your symptoms show and for another three to four days after they appear.

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