Debunking a common flu myth

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2018, file photo, Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle. Flu season continues to get worse, as this has become the most intense the country has seen since a pandemic strain hit nine years ago, U.S. health officials said on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The number of positive flu tests continue to grow in America, and our local hospitals are getting hit hard too.

Stormont Vail in Topeka has seen 208 positive tests just last week.

Nationally, the numbers are now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago.

“Anybody can get the flu at any age, but the more you’re in groups of people, the more likely you are to be exposed to it,” Dr. Betsy Johns said.

She said the best way to combat the flu is to get vaccinated, and if you haven’t, it’s not too late.

And to debunk a myth, if you have already had the flu once this season, you can get it again.

“Because there are different strains of flu, so you may have had influenza A, its possible you could get influenza B,” Dr. Johns said.

That’s why getting the flu shot is so important she says, because it covers several strains.

Sue Grandstaff hasn’t had a flu shot, but has gotten the flu.

“I just felt like I had been hit by a truck you know,” Grandstaff said. “And the muscle pain I have is so much worse, I just wanted to sit there and cry the whole time.”

She said even though she has no plans of getting the shot, she will continue to wash her hands so she can combat the flu from coming back to her.

“I just hope I never get it again because it was really really bad,” she said.

Dr. Johns said aside from the shot, ways to prevent the flu are washing your hands, coughing in your elbows and staying home if you are feeling sick.

Another piece of advice she gave is if you are taking care of your child and holding them, hold them so their head is facing your chest or shoulder so they aren’t coughing directly in your face, spreading those germs to you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the overall hospitalization rate this year is higher than the rate in the 2014-2015 season, which was also a very severe flu season.

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