It's November and it's the time of year when you should be getting your flu shot (if you have not already done so). Flu season lasts from late fall through early spring. Your body needs up to two weeks after you receive the vaccine to develop antibodies against the flu. According to the CDC, 5-20% of the US population is infected with influenza each year. The CDC estimates that annual influenza related deaths in the US ranged from 12,000 - 56,000 between the years of 2010-2013. Only 42% of Americans, 18 years or older, were vaccinated against the flu last year. American adults who became sick in 2015 with the flu cost the economy about $5.8 billion dollars in medical visits, medications, and sick days.
The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu. You need to get the flu vaccine annually. If you had the flu vaccine last season it will not protect you from this season's flu. The nasal mist variation is not recommended this year. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone older than 6 months old as long as you have no contraindications. The CDC recommends that only infants less than 6 months old and people with severe life threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or its ingredients should not be immunized. You need to discuss with your doctor if you have allergies to eggs and other vaccine ingredients, if you have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or if you are feeling ill.
So, the majority of people should be vaccinated against the flu, especially if you are at high risk for flu complications. Although the flu is usually a self-limiting illness, there can be complications associated with the flu. Those with the highest risk of developing flu related complications are children less than 5 years old but especially those less than 2 years old, individuals who are 65 years old or greater, pregnant women which includes up to two weeks post partum, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, and those with certain medical conditions. Medical conditions such as chronic cardiovascular, renal, pulmonary disorders, and immunosuppression also put you at a higher risk of complications.
Reduce Your Risk of the Flu:
1. Yearly flu vaccine
2. Avoid close contact with sick people
3. Wash your hands
4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
5. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that might be contaminated with germs
6. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue if you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue into the trash
If You Feel Sick:
1. Limit your contact with other people
2. Stay home for at least 24 hours after you have a fever (except to get medical care)
Getting your flu shot now is the best way to protect yourself from the flu this season
Flu Vaccine Benefits:
1. Reduce flu illness
2. Reduce doctor's visits
3. Reduce missed work or school days
4. Prevents flu related hospitalizations
With a little bit of prevention now, you can hopefully stay healthy this upcoming flu season.