Stay Healthy This Flu Season!

Doctor with Sign Reading Flu Shot
Image Source: iStock.com/CatLane

The 2017-2018 flu season is upon us.  It is important to begin getting your vaccination now.  The flu shot takes about 2 weeks to work.  Your immunity will last through the spring.

Here are five of the biggest flu season questions answered.

I’m healthy, Do I really need the flu vaccine?

Yes.  Influenza is a contagious disease which affects the lungs and can lead to a more serious illness.  The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone 6 months of age or older.  Some individuals are at more risk of complications of the flu vaccine and should consider vaccination including pregnant women, older people, and individuals with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

When is the right time to get the vaccine, can I get it too early? 

Now is the right time to get the flu vaccine.  Flu activity can begin as early as October and last well into March.  If the influenza virus is circulating, you should still get the flu vaccine.  Flu season can often last into the spring, and sooner you get vaccinated, the more effective it will be.

But can I get the flu from the vaccine?

No, you can’t. Flu vaccines  are developed using dead or weakened viruses that allow your body to develop the antibodies needed to fight the infection, but that won’t actually cause the disease. Flu-like symptoms can be related to other viral illnesses and you can potentially contract the flu virus while you are waiting for your immunity to build up from the vaccine.  You cannot catch the flu from the vaccine.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The flu is a respiratory illness, and it’s usually spread through the air by people coughing and sneezing. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue.  The flu is generally much more severe than the common cold, but the symptoms can be similar. The flu tends to develop very quickly and can cause much more severe complications like pneumonia or bacterial infections. A test can be done in the first few days of infection that can determine if you have the flu or a cold.

How do I prevent spread of the flu?

The most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get a vaccine if you haven’t already. Other important ways to help prevent the flu include: wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.  If you do develop symptoms, stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the flu to those around you.

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