Have you had your flu shot this year? The best time to get a flu shot is NOW, because flu season runs from mostly October through May, and it takes a couple of weeks after getting the shot for it to become effective.
WHY SHOULD PEOPLE GET VACCINATED AGAINST THE FLU?
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. The CDC estimates that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000. During flu season, flu viruses circulate at higher levels in the U.S. population. (“Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.) An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick with seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
There are available alternatives to standing in lines such as good hygiene or antiviral medications.
- Wash your hands for 15 seconds in warm water with soap
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
- Avoid crowded public places
- Stay at home and keep your germs to yourself
If that’s not enough for you, consider an antiviral medicine. Most people are unaware of three antiviral medicines peramivir (Rapivab), oseltamivir(Tamiflu), and zanamivir (Relenza) available from your doctor, which can cut the severity of flu and shorten the duration of symptoms. But these only work if you start them within two days of contracting the flu virus. There is a “needle-less” option for people 18-64 years old: the jet injector vaccine with Afluria, which uses a tool with high pressure to deliver the vaccine.
The flu comes on quickly in children. It might look like a stomach virus. Look for these symptoms:
- A high-grade fever up to 104 degrees F
- Chills and shakes with the fever
- Extreme tiredness
- Headache and body aches
- Dry, hacking cough
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and belly pain