Who Needs a Flu Vaccine?
According to the CDC recommendations, everyone six months of age and older should get a yearly flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for your body to develop an immune response. Get vaccinated now so that you will be protected when flu season begins. In the United States, influenza season usually begins in October and last until May, and usually peaks in January, February or later.
The flu is contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Signs and symptoms of the flu can include: fever, cough, sore throat, funny or stuffy nose, headaches, muscle or body aches and fatigue (very tired). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The flu is spread by droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It may also be spread when a person touches a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touches their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
You can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for an even longer time.
People with the flu should stay at home except to get medical care or until at least 24 hours after they are free of a fever without having taken any medicines that lower fever. Protect yourself from the flu by washing your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, cover your coughs and sneezes, and keep your distance from people who are coughing and sneezing.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common. Good hand washing prevents the spread of germs and decreases illnesses. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands often, if soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Practice other good health habits such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food.
Getting your flu vaccine not only protects you, but it protects your family and the people around you.