Flu 2020 mythbuster

Flu 2020

There’s often lots of myths around the jab. Do you think the jab gives you flu? Here are some myths busted - take a look at what’s fact or fiction when it comes to your jab.

Having flu is just like having a heavy cold

A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, as well as a cough and sore throat. You're likely to spend two or three days in bed. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and go to hospital

Having the flu vaccine gives you flu

No, it doesn't. The injected flu vaccine that is given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can't give you flu. Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, but other reactions are very rare. The children's flu nasal spray vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that will not give your child flu.

Flu can be treated with antibiotics

No, it can't. Viruses cause flu, and antibiotics only work against bacteria. You may be prescribed antiviral medicines to treat your flu. Antivirals do not cure flu, but they can make you less infectious to others and reduce the length of time you may be ill. To be effective, antivirals have to be given within a day or two of your symptoms appearing. A bacterial infection may occur as a result of having the flu, in which case you may be given antibiotics.

Once you've had the flu vaccine, you're protected for life

No, you aren't. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination each year that matches the new viruses. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of the flu season that year.

Children can't have the flu vaccine  

Yes, they can! The nasal spray flu vaccine is recommended on the NHS for all healthy two, three and four-year-old children plus children in school years one and two. In addition, children "at risk" of serious illness if they catch the flu are eligible for a flu vaccine on the NHS. This includes children with a pre-existing illness such as a respiratory or neurological condition and children who are having treatment that weakens their immune system such as chemotherapy. The flu vaccine is generally given to children aged 6 months to 2 years as an injection and to children aged 2 to 18 years as a nasal spray.

I'm pregnant, so I shouldn't have the flu jab because it will affect my baby

You should have the vaccine whatever stage of pregnancy you are in. If you’re pregnant, you could get very ill if you get flu, which could also be bad for your baby. Having the jab can also protect your baby against flu after they’re born and during the early months of life. Vaccination can help look after you during pregnancy and your new baby for up to 6 months afterwards.

The flu jab won’t protect me against swine flu

Yes, it will. This year's flu vaccine protects against three different flu viruses, including the H1N1 swine flu virus. This is because the virus is expected to be circulating this year.


If you have any specific questions relating to the flu vaccine please contact flu@eastamb.nhs.uk.   

Published 14th September 2020