The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to hospitalizations or even death. The first and most important step to prevent flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications.
Anyone can get the flu, including healthy children and adults. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and diarrhea. Unlike a cold, flu symptoms come on suddenly. For most people, symptoms last a few days to two weeks. However, some people are at greater risk of more serious complications, including those aged 65 and older, those with certain chronic conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years (especially infants). Each year, the flu causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths.
Flu vaccines come in different formulas: injectable vaccines (or shots) and nasal spray. Recommendations for use differ for certain populations or age groups. The nasal spray is approved for non-pregnant individuals ages 2 to 49. The nasal spray is NOT recommended for children younger than 2, people older than 49, those people with a history of severe allergic reactions to eggs or any ingredients in the vaccine, people with weakened immune systems or children with asthma.
People 65 years and older may receive vaccines specifically designed for their age group. The high-dose vaccine or adjuvant flu vaccine both create a stronger immune response to the flu.
Talk with your physician or health care provider about which type of flu vaccine you should receive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, frequent handwashing, and covering coughs and sneezes) to help slow the spread of germs that cause flu and other respiratory illnesses.
Protect yourself and your family from the flu! Contact your physician to schedule a flu shot today.
Together Health Network Director, Population Health