As the weather cools down and we say goodbye to warm pool days and get ready for the holidays, we must prepare ourselves for the upcoming flu season. Last year’s flu season was the worst yet with a new record of patients hospitalized and a considerable number of deaths. 180 children died from flu-related complications and 80% of those children were not vaccinated.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, suggests that everyone over six months of age gets vaccinated unless they have a specific reason not to, such as an allergy. The vaccination is not always effective but can help protect you and those around you who may be at higher risk. The flu is especially dangerous to young children, people age 65 and older, pregnant women, and people who suffer from chronic.
Even if the flu vaccine does not prevent you from getting it, it can lessen your chances of transferring the virus. In one flu season, the CDC estimates that the vaccine prevented over five million flu sicknesses, approximately two and a half million medical visits and 85,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza. Flu season begins in the fall, heightens in the winter, typically peaks in February or March, and can last until May. However, the CDC recommends everyone gets vaccinated within the next few weeks even though it is only the end of summer – ultimately before the end of October. Doctor’s offices, pharmacies, urgent cares, schools, and sometimes even work offer flu shots.
Flu Shot Myth
Myth busted: You can’t get the flu from getting the flu shot. There is no possible way that the flu vaccine can transmit the infection because the virus is inactive. People often confuse the side effects of the flu shot with the actual flu. After receiving a flu shot, you may feel weak or achy, but that is not the actual flu.
Symptoms and Prevention
The flu virus generally lasts one to two weeks, but the worst symptoms diminish after the first few days. According to the CDC, people are most contagious for the first three or four days after their sickness began. However, you can spread the virus up to one day before symptoms starting and five to seven days afterward. To avoid spreading the flu to others, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever goes down. Getting vaccinated and staying home when sick are the best two ways to reduce the transmission of the flu.
Additionally, everyone should try to get enough sleep, stay active, eat well, and stay hydrated – especially during flu season. You should wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and disinfecting common surfaces is a key factor in avoiding winter sickness. Flu germs can live for up to 24 hours on surfaces that may have come into contact with the infected. Finally, consider skipping handshakes and hugs. During cold and flu season, it’s not rude! As we kiss the summer sun goodbye, here’s a reminder for everyone to take care of themselves and stay healthy during the upcoming flu season!