Study: Despite understanding flu's seriousness, misconceptions remain

Nearly half of adults think antibiotics, vaccine will treat flu

BETHESDA, Md. — Only a quarter of respondents to a new survey would call a doctor for advice when someone at home has the flu, despite widespread recognition of it as serious and of the need for vaccination.

The study, conducted by the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, found that 93% of adults understand the flu is serious, while 87% understand it's highly contagious, and 66% understand the need for vaccination. The study included a national survey of 1,000 adults and surveys of 500 adults in 10 states, collected between Aug. 6 and Aug. 28.

"It is reassuring that individuals recognize the importance of receiving an annual vaccination, but that's not enough," NFID medical director Susan Rehm said. "To help keep influenza out of homes, schools and workplaces, everyone needs to get vaccinated and know to contact a doctor at the first sign of flu symptoms."

But there was confusion about when it was contagious and how to treat it. For example, 44% of respondents thought they could treat it with antibiotics, while 48% thought the flu vaccine would treat it. Meanwhile, 41% didn't know it's contagious before symptoms start, and 59% don't know there are prescription drugs to treat it.


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