- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Fall Season Ushers in the Flu Season
With the arrival of the fall season enters the flu season as well. As the temperatures turn cooler, the risk for flu increases among the general population. It is estimated that each year, more than 20% of the American population becomes ill from the flu with more than 200,000 requiring hospitalization. 20,000 children are reported to hospitalized annually.
In order to decrease the spread of the flu, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that everyone over the age of six months get vaccinated.
Common symptoms of the flu include:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
It is important to note that people are contagious for up to five to seven days after they show symptoms of the flu.
When should you get the flu vaccine?
It is suggested that you get vaccinated by October as this is the timeframe in which the flu tends to increase in activity. Keep in mind that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect in our systems. So, even if you happen to catch the flu within a few days of taking the vaccine, you should consider that it is highly probable that you were already exposed to the virus and that is why you have suddenly developed symptoms of the flu on the heels of getting your vaccination.
Although it is recommended you get vaccinated by October, the flu's peak season occurs between December and February each year.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?
Anyone over the age of six months should get the flu vaccine however, there are certain groups who should get vaccinated more than others which include but are not limited to the following:
- Pregnant women
- Under the age of five and over the age of 65
- Those at risk for exposure to the virus due to their ongoing exposure to other people
- Native Americans and Alaskan Natives
- Caregivers of those under the age of 6 months or over the age of 65
- Healthcare workers
- People who suffer from asthma
- Morbidly obese
- People with Heart Disease
Why Should You Get a Flu Shot Every Year?
Although the severity of a flu season is unpredictable, it is still highly encouraged that you get a flu shot every year. The reason for this annual vaccination is due to the flu virus being ever-changing. Each year, a new vaccine is developed every season because there is a different strain of the virus that tends to be more prevalent than in the previous year.
What Can You Do to Prevent the Spread of the Flu?
To prevent the spread of the flu, you can take the following steps:
- Wash your hands frequently throughout the day with soap and hot water for 20 seconds or more.
- Get your vaccination by the end of October if it is available in your region of the country
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamins A, C and E to build your immunity
- Stay home when you are sick
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