Fact vs. fiction

Identifying what’s true and what’s not about the prevention and treatment of flu
So what should you do if you have flu?
Take vitamin C? Drink ginger tea? Eat chicken soup? When it comes to treating flu, everyone has their favorite remedy. But do they actually work?

Here we break through some of the ‘conflusion’ by identifying what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to preventing and treating flu. And what’s more, if you click on a panel below you can learn more about that particular topic.
Flu antivirals vs.
over–the-counter remedies
icon Fact

You need a prescription for antiviral flu medication

icon Fiction

Antibiotics are a good treatment for flu

icon Fiction

Over-the-counter flu medicines can cure flu

The flu vaccine
icon Fiction

The flu vaccine can give you flu

icon Fiction

Only high risk groups such as pregnant women and older people need a flu shot

icon Fiction

You don’t need a flu vaccine every year

icon Fiction

A flu vaccine protects you from all types of flu

icon Fact

Some people are allergic to flu shot ingredients

icon Fiction

There is no difference between a vaccine and an immunization

Flu symptom relief
icon Fiction

Flu is just a bad cold – the symptoms are the same

icon Fiction

Chicken soup can cure the flu

icon Fiction

The flu isn’t a serious illness

icon Fact

Antivirals can help ease flu symptoms

Think you’ve got flu? Visit your doctor to discuss if an antiviral flu medication might be right for you

If you get sick this flu season, it’s important to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible.


Find out more about flu in your local area using the CDC influenza map.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What You Should Know About Influenza (Flu) Antiviral Drugs: Fact Sheet, 2016. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/antiviral-factsheet-updated.pdf. Last accessed September 2018.
  2. Lehnert R et al. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2016; 113(47): 799–807.
  3. Low D. Clin Microbiol Infect 2008; 14(4): 298–306.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptom relief, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/symptom-relief.html. Last accessed September 2018.
  5. Stiver G. CMAJ 2003; 168(1): 49–56.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Last accessed: September 2018.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding How Vaccines Work, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf. Last accessed September 2018.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination: Who Should Do It, Who Should Not and Who Should Take Precautions, 2017. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm. Last accessed September 2018.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People at High Risk of Developing Serious Flu–Related Complications, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm. Last accessed September 2018.
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm. Last accessed September 2018.
  11. Talbot HK et al. Clin Infect Dis 2013; 56(12): 1774–1777.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cold Versus Flu, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm. Last accessed September 2018.
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Burden of Influenza, 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/burden.htm. Last accessed September 2018.
  14. Tsang TK et al. Trends Microbiol 2016; 24(2): 123–133.
  15. Allen UD et al. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol 2006; 17(5): 273–284.
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Date of preparation: October 2018

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