It’s difficult to realize that summer is over. Flu season may seem far away to many people who are enjoying the last warm days. In fact, the beginning of the upcoming flu season is closer than you think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that each year’s flu season lasts from October to May. Getting vaccinated against the flu each year is the first and most crucial step in preventing the illness. When you receive the flu vaccination, you are not only defending yourself but also your community’s residents, particularly vulnerable youngsters.
What is the Flu and what happens if you get it?
The flu is not just a really bad cold:
- It affects the lungs, nose, throat, and other parts of the body;
- Can spread quickly from one person to another;
- HIGHLY contagious;
- Usually lasts about 2 weeks but can put you in the hospital.
Seasonal Flu Symptoms
- Extreme fatigue;
- Sore throat;
- Runny or stuffy nose;
- Dry cough;
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrea.
According to CDC: Compared to young, healthy individuals, people 65 and older are more likely to face major flu-related complications. The immune system alters with aging, which contributes to this increased risk. Even though flu seasons can vary in intensity, in the majority of cases, those 65 and older are more at risk for developing serious flu illness. For instance, it is estimated that between 50 and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in previous years have involved adults 65 and older, and that between 70 and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related fatalities have occurred in this age group.
Older adults, especially those with congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes are at an increased risk of complications and death.
How does it spread?
You can spread the flu even before you feel sick – as early as one day before you feel symptoms… and five days after you feel better.
What is a vaccine?
- A vaccine contains DEAD particles of the flu virus strains that scientists believe are most likely going to be the most common this current flu season.
- This means that it IS possible to get the flu even though you are vaccinated by the flu vaccine.
- HOWEVER, it is protective against the majority of the strains that you might come into contact with flu season.
When should I get vaccinated?
- The best time to get vaccinated is early fall to December, but you can still get a seasonal flu shot through March or beyond.
- The flu season peaks in February but it continues through until May.
- As a healthcare worker, you must get vaccinated before the New York Department of Health officially declares it “flu season” – this is typically around October 1st.
Do I need a seasonal flu shot every year?
- You should get vaccinated every year if you want to reduce your risk of catching the flu or spreading it to others;
- You should also get a yearly vaccine if you are at a high risk for serious complications from the flu or live or work with people who are high risk.
Who should NOT get vaccinated?
- Those younger than 6 months;
- Have a severe allergy to chicken eggs;
- Have ever had a severe reaction to influenza vaccines;
- Currently have a moderate or severe illness with fever.
Is vaccination safe?
- YES, it is VERY SAFE;
- A side effect is pain at the injection site;
- You cannot get the flu by getting vaccinated.