With fall right around the corner, cold and flu season will soon be upon us. Influenza, commonly known as the flu, affects millions of people each year. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can be a very serious disease which can lead to hospitalization and even death. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get the flu vaccine annually.
In the U.S., the flu season is most common in the fall and winter; however, seasonal influenza viruses are detected year-round. Typically, flu activity begins to increase in October, peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May.
Signs and Symptoms
• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills (*not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu, the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, and helps prevent spreading the flu virus to others.
Who Should Get the Flu Shot?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age six months of age and older get vaccinated; however, the flu shot is particularly important for pregnant women, senior citizens, and young children.
People with the following chronic medical conditions should also strongly consider getting the flu vaccine:
• Cystic Fibrosis
• Kidney Disease
• Liver Disease
Simple Ways to Stop the Flu
• Get the flu vaccine
• Cover your mouth and nose
• Sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow
• Put on a face mask
• Wash hands often with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer
• Stay home if you get sick
Contact your primary care physician’s office to arrange for a flu vaccination. Vaccines typically are available beginning in September. Speak with your physician prior to getting the vaccine if you have had a negative reaction to a previous vaccine, are allergic to eggs or mercury, or have a fever.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention