The biggest misconception about the flu kills thousands of people every year

Patient with flu gets testedGetty ImagesThe flu is a bigger deal than many people realise.

The flu isn’t that big of a deal, right? You get a fever, chills, maybe throw up a little and then you’re fine.

For many Americans, this can be true. But anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people die from the flu or its complications every year, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The misconception that the flu is harmless means people don’t get the vaccine or drag themselves to work and school when they’re sick — and that means more people who are at risk of getting seriously ill are exposed to the highly contagious virus.

If you have the flu, which is contagious for about a week, remember that while you might be strong enough to easily fight off a flu, not everyone is.

Young children, older adults, and people with other conditions like asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems are at especially high risk of developing complications from the flu that can lead to hospitalisation or death.

Every year, between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu, and over 200,000 end up in the hospital because of it, according to the CDC.

You can catch the virus from up to 6 feet away and even become infected after touching an object that someone with the flu touched.

Getting your annual flu vaccine — either via a shot, nasal spray or jet injector — is the best way to keep yourself from getting the flu, and also to protect people who are at high risk.

The vaccine is free for almost everyone, since nearly all insurance plans, including Medicare Part B, cover immunizations.

So go out and get your flu shot this year, and protect the people around you.

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