flu season has arrived, and we're ready for it
Preventing Seasonal Influenza: Get Vaccinated
It's that time of year again- for changing leaves, for a slight chill in the air and for flu vaccinations. If you're interested in getting vaccinated find a primary care physician to administer the flu shot!
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. There are two types of flu vaccines: flu shots and nasal sprays.
“Flu shots” are inactivated vaccines (containing killed virus) that are given with a needle. There are three flu shots being produced for the United States market now.
- The regular seasonal flu shot is “intramuscular” which means it is injected into muscle (usually in the upper arm). It has been used for decades and is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. Regular flu shots make up the bulk of the vaccine supply produced for the United States.
- A hi-dose vaccine for people 65 and older which also is intramuscular. This vaccine was first made available during the 2010-2011 season.
- An intradermal vaccine for people 18 to 64 years of age which is injected with a needle into the “dermis” or skin. This vaccine was first made available for the 2011-2012 season.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common.
All persons aged six months or older should be vaccinated against influenza each year. Particular effort should be made to immunize people at higher risk for influenza infection or complications. These include:
- All children aged 6 months-18 years, and all persons aged >50 years
- Pregnant and postpartum women
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
- People who have chronic lung or heart problems, including asthma
- People who have other serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, anemia, cancer, weak immune systems (including those with HIV), or a seizure disorder
To help prevent the spread of influenza to people in high risk groups, those who live with people in a high risk group and healthcare workers who provide care to high risk patients should also receive an annual influenza shot. Travelers to countries outside of the U.S. may also need to consider influenza vaccination.
Identifying Flu Symptoms
Flu may take from 1-7 days from exposure before the illness develops. Below are flu symptoms:
- Fever (100°F or greater)
- Respiratory tract illness (cough, sore throat, runny nose)
- Muscle aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Anyone can get influenza, but it is most serious in young children, pregnant women, elderly people, people with chronic illnesses (e.g., lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes) and those with weak immune systems.
Influenza spreads easily in discharges from the nose or throat when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
When to Seek Treatment for the Flu
Flu symptoms usually resolve in 5 days. If symptoms last longer, contact your doctor.
Anyone at higher risk for flu complications should seek care at the earliest signs of flu. Medicines (antivirals) work best if given within 48 hours of symptoms. Also be aware of warning signs of potentially life threatening symptoms to seek medical care immediately.
For more information about the flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov/flu/) or talk to a healthcare professional.