Raleigh, N.C. — The flu kills about 36,000 Americans every year, and sends about 200,000 people to the hospital. Dr. Allen Mask answered popular questions about the flu during Wednesday's 5 p.m. newscast.
Question: It is not too late to get a flu shot?
Answer: Yes, it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to work, but flu season last until the first of May. Flu cases typically peak in February, so it is not to late to get the vaccine.
Question: Can you get the flu from the vaccine?
Answer: That is the most common reason people refuse the flu shot. This is a myth. The flu vaccine does not contain a live virus. It will not make you sick.
Question: Folks call it cold and flu season, and they are both spread the same way. How can people prevent catching these viruses?
- Wash your hands often after using the bathroom and before eating. Wash for a full 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based gel.
- Don't cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Avoid a lot of hand shaking if you can.
- Don't smoke. Research shows smokers are predisposed to get more upper respiratory infections.
Question: If you have a cold or the flu, what can you do to make it easier on yourself.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat what feels good. Hot soup and toast or crackers are the way to start.
- Get extra bed rest.
- Avoid excessive exercise, like treadmills.
- Stay home. You can pass the flu a day before you develop symptoms and for several days after symptoms subside.
- If you are sick, see your doctor and don't infect others.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports, so far, there have only been a few cases of flu in the state.