Flu myths debunked

Jan 21 2010 - 10:04am

Since the novel H1N1 influenza began its trek around the world last spring, many theories have arisen as to its origins, modes of transmission and means of prevention. Much of this information is based on misunderstandings, falsehoods and the love of a good conspiracy theory. And because many of us get our news and information from non-medical sources, its time to discredit some of the common myths that are floating around.

Myth No. 1 -- "Flu vaccines contain adjuvants that cause an inflammatory response in the body."

This is not true. The seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine do not contain adjuvants. But to ease any potential concern, adjuvants are basically substances such as mineral salts, oils or plant extracts that are mixed with a vaccine to help stimulate the inflammatory response within the body. It is the inflammatory response that forms our immunity.

Myth No. 2 -- "Getting the flu shot causes the flu."

Those of you who have experienced this before may not believe the following; but the flu shot does not cause the flu. The injectable flu vaccine is inactivated (killed) and therefore incapable of causing the disease. The flu-like symptoms some of you feel after receiving a vaccination is likely your body's immune system simply overreacting to something in the vaccine. Another explanation is that because it takes about two weeks before you acquire protection from the vaccination, if you contracted the flu before you were protected, you got sick.

Myth No. 3 -- "The (H1N1) vaccine production was rushed and has never been tested on humans."

We have been producing influenza vaccines safely for almost 70 years. The method by which the H1N1 flu vaccine is produced is basically the same as the method by which the seasonal flu vaccine is manufactured; the relative safety is considered to be comparable. Regardless of the perceived safety concerns, when the vaccine came out it was tested; the CDC began to monitor for adverse reactions; and the vaccine companies began to routinely sample their product for quality control. This is the standard operating procedure for protecting the health of the American public.

Myth No. 4 -- "No flu vaccine works as well as vitamin D."

Unfortunately this one is not true either. Although, it is interesting to note that the human body has the ability to make its own vitamin D. In fact, just 15 minutes per day of sun exposure coupled with a proper diet and the average person will never need to take a vitamin D supplement.

Hopefully this will work toward dispelling some of the common myths regarding H1N1 and also clarified some concerns that may have been raised. Rest assured that the 75th MDG is working hard to stay on top of this situation, as well as multiple other concerns in regards to your health.

For additional information, please contact the 75th Medical Group Public Health Office at (801) 586-9665. More information can always be found through the CDC link at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.

Mandatory

Vaccinations are mandatory for all active duty and available for TriCare beneficiaries. Davis County and Weber County Public Health departments have a supply of both H1N1 and seasonal vaccine.

Go to http://www.daviscountyutah.gov/health/flu/default.cfm for more detailed information.

The 75th Medical Group here at Hill Air Force Base also has H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccine available to all active duty and TriCare beneficiaries. Just come by the 75th Medical Group Immunization Clinic. You can call (801) 777-5209 for specific hours of operation.

For additional information, please contact the 75th Medical Group Public Health Office at (801) 586-9582.

More information can always be found through the CDC link at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.

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