# Interesting Facts About the Flu: A Pediatrician's Perspective
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that affects millions of people each year. As a pediatrician, I often get asked about the flu, its symptoms, and how to prevent it. While it's important to understand these aspects, I thought it would be fun to share some interesting facts about the flu that you might not know. So, let's dive in!
## 1. Flu Season is Not Just in Winter
While it's true that flu season can peak in the winter, you can get the flu in the fall and spring, too¹. Some people get seasonal flu as early as October, with infections continuing through May¹.
## 2. The Flu is Contagious Before Symptoms Start
The flu is highly contagious partly because it's possible to pass the virus on before you become sick¹. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can infect someone with the virus one day before your symptoms start¹.
## 3. Flu Symptoms Can Start Abruptly
The onset of flu symptoms can happen rapidly¹. You may feel fine one day, and be unable to do anything one or two days later due to your symptoms¹. Sometimes, the onset of symptoms occurs as early as one day after exposure¹.
## 4. It Takes Up to Two Weeks for the Flu Vaccine to Work
Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself against the influenza virus¹. But it’s important that you get your shot early in the season. It takes about two weeks for these antibodies to develop¹.
## 5. You Need a New Flu Vaccine Every Year
The predominant flu viruses circulating this season will differ from next year’s viruses¹. This is because the virus undergoes changes each year. Therefore, you’ll need a new vaccine every year to protect yourself¹.
## 6. The Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Cause the Flu
One misconception is that the flu vaccine causes the flu¹. One variety of the flu shot does include a severely weakened form of the flu virus. It doesn’t cause real infection, but it allows your body to develop necessary antibodies¹.
## 7. The Word 'Flu' Has an Interesting Origin
The term 'flu' is short for influenza, a term that originates from the Italian word influentia². In medieval times, it was believed that this sickness was caused by an ethereal influence of the sun, moon, planets, and stars².
I hope you found these facts about the flu interesting and informative. Remember, the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Stay safe and healthy!
Source: Conversation with Bing, 11/23/2023
(1) 10 Facts About the Flu: Symptoms, Vaccine, and More - Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/flu/10-facts-you-should-know.
(2) What Are Interesting Facts About the Flu? - MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/what_are_interesting_facts_about_the_flu/article.htm.
(4) 12 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About the Flu. https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/en/HealthU/2019/10/30/12-facts-about-the-flu.