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Debunking flu myths, concerns

Experts expect an influenza epidemic
Posted at 5:57 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 18:57:56-04

With the arrival of fall, not far behind it is the flu season.

Dr. Mark Rupp with Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center says experts are bracing for yet another influenza epidemic.

But it remains unclear on when it will hit or how long it will last, according to Dr. Rupp, who specializes in infectious diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 80,000 people died from the flu last year, while pediatric deaths broke records with 180.

The season is a time when people wonder whether they should get vaccinated and if it's effective, some of the reasoning based on misinformation.

The common argument against flu shots? Some people believe the vaccines spread the flu.

"Biologically, that's not possible," Dr. Rupp said. "When you get the shot, it's a killed vaccine - so, it's a killed virus vaccine."

The elderly and young children are at greater risk for the flu, but even healthy people without underlying health conditions should get their shots.

Even if you're young and healthy and don't have any complicating factors, you have about a 10 percent or 15 percent chance of getting a secondary problem from the flu, he said.

There's also a matter of timing, especially if you like to put off the vaccinations later in the season.

"The influenza vaccine takes about two weeks for it to build up immunity in your body," Dr. Rupp said.

From there, that level of immunity tends to peak at six to eight weeks and then tapers off, he said.

As he puts it, now would be the time to get it done.