Last year Indiana saw one of the worst flu season in recent years, with more than 300 reported deaths.
As this year’s flu season approaches, Dr. John Christenson, a professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health, says the biggest challenges doctors face when it comes to the flu are the misconceptions.
“There is plenty of research that states, you cannot get autism from the vaccine, you cannot get Alzheimer's from the vaccine,” said Christenson. “We know that the vaccine is key to protect people.”
Christenson says a yearly flu vaccine is the most important step in protecting against the virus. A vaccination can reduce flu symptoms, doctors’ visits and missed work and school.
If you do get the flu, the CDC recommends staying at home for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides, without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Christenson warns that once the influenza virus gets into the home, it spreads like wildfire. He adds that even “healthy” people get the flu.
“When you look at the numbers of people who die every year, you have normal people dying of influenza who had not received the vaccine,” said Christenson. “We should do everything we can to promote vaccination among our families to keep them healthy.”
To keep the influenza virus from spreading, Christenson suggests practicing “good respiratory etiquette” like covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough by using your arm or sleeve, rather than your hand. Also, teaching children to wash their hands frequently.
This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a reporting collaborative focused on public health.