In order to avoid flu, you must first protect yourself from the misconceptions about this contagious virus infection, which in humans everyday in the cold months deprives people not only of their ability to work, but even life. Uga Dumpis, Chief Specialist of Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health, explains the most common myths about flu.
Myth no 1 "In order not to become infected with a flu, strong immunity is sufficient"
"Most people are susceptible to influenza viruses no matter how strong or weak the general immunity is. It is important to have specific immunity against the influenza virus concerned after the flu shot has been removed or after vaccination. If a person encounters a new type of influenza virus, there is a high risk of developing a disease. Years when a whole new flu virus, still called pandemic, appears to be affecting a lot more people, "says Dumpis.
"If one thinks – I will not get sick with the flu, because I take vitamins and a sportsman, then he should know – it does not work." Deaths or non-immature diseases are more affected by specific immunity and human genetic characteristics, and the risk of disease is increased by stress, fatigue, indigestion, unbalanced diet, over-heating and cooling. In turn, the severity of the flu is determined by several factors, including also the body's response.
"There are cases where, because of strong immunity, the organism is" too active "to respond to influenza viruses and the inflammatory processes produce more pronounced symptoms of the flu, which means that the disease is more severe. But usually in these cases, thanks to the strong immunity, the patient successfully heals, "explains Dumpis.
Myth no 2 "Influenza vaccine can be harmful to health"
Such a statement has no evidence and can not be scientifically substantiated; on the contrary, studies have proven to be a reliable and effective vaccine. Vaccination can cause transient reactions – fever, swelling and pain in the site of a stitch that lasts up to two days.
Consequently, it can be convincingly said that the vaccine is the safest way to prevent the spread of influenza. "It pays off both by comparing the price of the vaccine to treatment costs and taking into account other personal economic losses associated with the illness, such as the use of a sick leave page. Every year people die in Latvia who were able to protect the vaccine, "says Dumpis.
Myth no 3 "Pregnant flu vaccine is particularly dangerous"
Absolutely the opposite! Pregnant women are at high risk, and vaccination is especially recommended for them, and the state compensates for the cost of purchasing an influenza vaccine by 50% for pregnant women.
"Influenza is particularly dangerous for pregnant women because of the high temperature that affects the fetus, adversely affecting the development of the fetus and endangers the benefits of pregnancy. It has been shown that pregnant women can be vaccinated in any period of pregnancy and this does not adversely affect the newborn.
On the contrary, the baby receives the necessary proteins from the vaccinated mother. Doctors who have been treated with an influenza-infected pregnant woman's reanimation department would never want to re-encounter such cases in their practice. It's terrible if a pregnant woman needs a Caesarean because of flu due to a reanimation! "Says Dumpis of the flu-induced effects.
Myth no 4 "It does not make sense to get vaccinated, because it is not known what a flu virus will be this year"
Influenza viruses are very variable, therefore each year, in preparation for the new flu season, it is examined which viral variants were most common in the previous season in different regions of the world and what changes have occurred in the structure of these viruses. Depending on this, the World Health Organization makes recommendations for the composition of the vaccine for the following season for the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively.
Sometimes a person who has been vaccinated against influenza may still be infected with the flu, especially if it is an elderly person or a person with impaired immunity.
Despite the fact that the flu vaccine may not protect itself from illness in all cases, it reduces the need for hospitalization for a patient, with flu-related complications and deaths, and this is the most effective preventive measure.
Myth no 5 "Influenza can only be infected once a year"
People are more likely to be infected with the most commonly occurring influenza virus, or dominant in the period and territory in question. Following the flu shot, a person becomes immune to the relevant influenza virus. Given that the flu season lasts from November until May and during the season a number of different influenza viruses spread, there may be a recurrence of the flu, especially for an unvaccinated human, as the vaccinated person is protected from at least three or four of the most common influenza viruses.
As a rule, the flu epidemic begins in the second half of January, when children return to schools in places where they "exchange viruses" after the holidays, and the infection spreads rapidly to other populations.
Myth no 6 "A person gets infectious after he first manifests flu symptoms"
No – an influenza-infected person spreads the virus one day before he begins to feel the signs of the disease – fever, bone loss, dry cough, neck pain, weakness and loss of appetite. It should be remembered that the infection is also distributed to seemingly healthy people or those with easy symptoms because they continue to attend educational institutions, work and other public places.
The virus spreads in the form of small droplets, the infected squeal, cough and even talking, or by contact – shaking or touching household items. Infection can be very easy, for example, by touching the door handle and then rubbing your nose or mouth with your unclean hands. When it reaches the airways, the virus quickly breaks up, and after a few days or even several hours, a person suddenly feels sick. In order to reduce the spread of infection, it is often necessary to wash your hands, clean rooms and, as far as possible, avoid visiting public places, especially during the flu epidemic.
The material was prepared by the Ministry of Health and the Center for Disease Prevention and Control in the public awareness campaign "Do not allow the flu to catch yourself!". The goal of the campaign is to encourage the flu vaccination of the population and to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination, especially in those populations that are at high risk of influenza-related complications.