Flu Season is here again. Unfortunately it comes back year after year and the same question, should I get a flu vaccine? Influenza or flu is diagnosed by the CDC as “a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses.” When a person is infected with influenza, illness can range from mild to severe, with the latter potentially resulting in hospitalization or death. The young, elderly, pregnant, and people with certain health conditions are at a high risk of serious complications from influenza.
Signs and Symptoms
- Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Some people may experience some or all of the above symptoms.
- Influenza is most commonly spread by droplets in the air made by a contagious person when they cough, sneeze or talk, which can land in the mouths or noses of a nearby person. The flu can also be contracted by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
- From the time a person is exposed to the virus, it takes an average of 2 days for symptoms to begin. It is possible to spread the flu up to 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick.
Preventing the Flu & Flu Vaccine
- The most important step in preventing the flu is to receive a flu vaccination every year. It is also recommended to avoid people who are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and utilize frequent hand washing.
- The CDC recommends the nasal spray vaccine NOT be used this year related to concerns about its effectiveness. This year’s quadrivalent (four-component) vaccine is recommended for those 6 months and older. The trivalent (three-component) vaccine is recommended for those 5 years and older. Those who are pregnant may receive any flu vaccine.
- Flu activity is unpredictable but can begin as early as October and last as late as May. The body takes about two weeks after vaccination to build up antibodies that will protect the body against the flu. With this in mind, early vaccination in the flu season is recommended before influenza begins spreading throughout the community.
Please see your healthcare provider for more information on influenza and how to protect yourself and receive your influenza vaccination today!