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Flu myths explained

Flu is just a heavy cold

Flu is caused by a different virus to the cold and comes on much more suddenly than a cold does. Getting a bad bout of flu feels much worse and is more serious than a heavy cold. Flu can also cause complications needing hospital treatment, and can even be life threatening.1

The flu jab can give you flu

The flu jab is made from inactivated flu virus, which is too weak to cause the illness. In some people, the jab can cause a slightly high temperature and sore muscles for a few days, but these effects are very mild and soon clear up. Other effects of the flu jab are very rare.1

Pregnant women shouldn’t have the flu jab

Pregnant women should have the flu jab whatever stage they are at, because if they develop flu while pregnant they could become very ill, and this could also affect the baby.1

Children shouldn’t have the flu jab

Some children are at increased risk from the effects of flu (for example if they are having chemotherapy). Children are also ‘super spreaders’ of flu in school or nursery, so by cutting down the number of cases of flu in children, fewer cases will be passed onto those who might be at greater risk from flu. For 2017/18, the flu jab will be offered routinely to all pre-schoolers aged 2 and 3 years, as well as children in school years from Reception to year 4.2 If your child is eligible for a jab this year, your GP practice will let you know.

You can treat flu with antibiotics

Flu is caused by a virus. Antibiotics only work on bacteria, not viruses. Sometimes people who have flu also develop a bacterial infection, and they may need antibiotics for that. Otherwise, antibiotics are of no use in treating flu.1


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