FAQ breaks down flu fundamentals

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Report from the American Academy of Microbiology offers straight talk on key influenza questions, concerns.

The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) has issued an influenza FAQ that provides no-nonsense, science-based responses to common questions surrounding the virus.

The questions addressed in the FAQ include:

  • What is influenza, anyway, and why is it such a big deal?
  • Why does influenza come back year after year?
  • How does the influenza virus change so fast?
  • Where do new pandemic influenza strains come from?
  • Should I worry about bird flu?
  • Why is getting the flu shot every year so important?
  • How is the flu shot made?
  • Can I get the flu from a flu vaccination?

The report also includes a section titled "eight bad excuses for not getting a flu shot." One such excuse listed is "I got the shot last year and felt sick afterwards." AAM lists two potential reasons for this. (1) Patients may feel somewhat "run down" after getting vaccinated as a result of their immune system building antibodies against the virus, noting that "the real flu would be far worse." (2) Individuals may become infected with another respiratory virus after getting the flu vaccine. Here, AAM points out that "the vaccination won’t protect you from other viruses, but those viruses are also unlikely to cause severe complications."

The FAQ resulted from an AAM-led conference in October 2012, during which 12 experts on influenza considered popular questions and concerns surrounding influenza.

The FAQ also provides helpful sidebars and figures covering topics such as "Virus, bacteria, bug, germ ... what's the difference?," "How big is an influenza virus?," and "What does an influenza virus look like?"

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