Now that Fall is in full swing many families are thinking about pumpkin patches and apple picking, but one may also think about flu season. Early Fall is really a time to start flu prevention because studies show that prevention is more impactful than intervention. Flu shots can lead to a healthier Fall and Winter, and enjoyable holidays. Read on to learn more about influenza (flu), why it is critical to vaccinate against it, and how to keep the littlest loved ones safe.
What is influenza (flu)?
- A virus that infects the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs.
- Highly contagious and is spread from one person to another by coughing, sneezing or talking.
- Influenza infections typically occur between October and April each year.
What are the symptoms?
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
Influenza virus is a more common cause of severe, fatal pneumonia, particularly in adults older than 65. Although most influenza-related deaths are in older adults, sadly, each year about 50 to 150 children also die from influenza. Children younger than 4 years of age often require hospitalization because of high fever, wheezing, croup, or pneumonia. It is important to note that because influenza is a virus, it can’t be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Who should get the flu shot?
- Everyone over the age of 6 months
- Pregnant women are eligible to get the shot, and it is encouraged.
Does the flu shot work?
- It prevents roughly 70 of every 100 people who receive it from developing moderate-to-severe influenza infection. Even though the vaccine might not completely prevent influenza infection, it will still lessen the length and severity of the illness.
Is it safe to get?
Yes. Influenza vaccine shots can cause pain, redness or tenderness at the site of injection as well as muscle aches and low-grade fever, but because the vaccine viruses are completely inactivated the shot cannot cause influenza.
Contact your primary care doctor to get your flu shot today! Also, many community health departments offer to drive thru clinics as well.