Health5 facts you need to know to stay healthy this winter

5 facts you need to know to stay healthy this winter

5 facts you need to know to stay healthy this winter

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a very contagious infection caused by viruses which can cause a mild to severe infection in your nose, sinuses, throat and lungs. Although flu infections can occur at any time throughout the year, the risk increases in the fall and peaks in the winter.

With flu season upon us, the question of whether to get vaccinated or not is one many people are trying to answer. Here, The Lung Association clears up some myths to help you make an informed decision.

1. Even if you had the flu shot once, you need it again. The viruses that cause the infection can change slightly each year, so the vaccine must also change to match them. A person's immune protection from vaccination also declines over time.

2. There's more than one flu shot available. There are different vaccination options. Those 65 and older should speak with their healthcare provider to find out which vaccine is right for them, as this age group typically doesn't respond to vaccines as well as younger adults.

3. Getting the flu shot will not give you the flu. The vaccine you receive either has an inactivated virus or does not contain one at all and therefore cannot give you the flu. If you develop influenza within two weeks of getting your shot, it is likely that you already had the virus prior to vaccination. It can also be a result of your body's immune response to a foreign substance. However, the most common reactions to the vaccine itself are less severe than symptoms of the actual flu.

4. You need the shot even if you're healthy. If you're 65 or older, your immune system is weakening naturally, making you more susceptible to the virus. If you're younger than 65, getting the shot also helps protect more vulnerable populations like pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses from contracting the flu from you.

5. The flu shot is 50 to 60 per cent effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults. Although some people who get the vaccination may still get sick, the flu tends to be milder than if they didn't, which reduces the risk of serious complications.

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