THE FLU, IMPORTANCE OF GETTING A FLU VACCINATION
The flu season occurs from October through May. However the majority of flu cases usually occur late December and early March. Each year thousands of people die from influenza and even more require hospitalization.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination. By receiving a flu vaccine you can protect yourself from influenza and may avoid spreading influenza to others. The flu vaccine does not give people the flu.
What is influenza?
Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by a number of RNA viruses. An airborne virus, the flu enters your body through your nose or mouth.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
- body or muscle aches
- high fever, lasting 3-4 days
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
- extreme tiredness
- stomach symptoms (more common in children), including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
The incubation period between acquiring the infections and becoming ill is 1-4 days. Most healthy adults are able to infect other people 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. Children can infect others for several days prior to developing symptoms and can be infectious for more than 10 days.
Who Should Get Vaccinate?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people with high risk for complication from the flu should get a flu vaccination, including:
- Children 6 months to 5 years of age
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (asthma, cerebral palsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, HIV-AIDS, kidney or liver disease, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell disease
- People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities
- Heath care professional
- People who live or care for those at high risk for complications (examples for families with young children this means everyone in the household needs to be vaccinated.
When to Get the Flu Shot?
Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available. This should provide protections if the flu season comes early.
Adults and children need one dose of influenza vaccine each year. But some children younger than 9 years of age need two doses to be protect. Speak with your doctor about this.
Who Should Not Get A Flu Vaccine?
People who have severe allergy to chicken eggs or who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination previously should not be vaccinated without first consulting with their physician. Those individuals at risk with fever should refrain from vaccination until their symptoms lessen.
What If there Is a Severe Reaction?
Any unusual condition, such as a high fever or unusual behavior. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness, or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.
What Should You Do?
Call your doctor or get the individual to a doctor right away.
Tell your physician what happened, the date and time, it happened, and when the vaccination was given.
Ask your doctor to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event form.
HOW TO STAY HEALTHY DURING FLU SEASON?
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often, especially before eating. Wash with hot water and use ample soap. Avoid large crowds or interacting with others who may be sick, at least during flu season, which lasts from October to May. (with December and March being peak months). Use hand sanitizers in addition to washing your hands.
- Eat healthy, balance diet. This means getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins each day. Adults need 2 1/2 cups of fruit, 3 to 4 vegetables, 6 to 7 oz of grains, and 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 ounces of protein each day.
- Supplement the diet with a multi-vitamin as well as vitamin C supplement.