“Woman Blowing Nose” by Ambro freedigitalphotos.net
It is time once again for me to get on my soap box. This issue is too important to ignore. According to the CDC thousands of Americans die each year of seasonal influenza. These deaths could have been prevented if they were vaccinated. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu. I caught seasonal influenza when I was pregnant with my third child and fortunately we were both alright. Now I make sure that my family gets vaccinated every year.
What is influenza?
Influenza, or more commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can be mild for some people and more severe for others. Sometimes influenza is confused with the common cold so it is very important that you know the difference between the two. The flu usually comes on suddenly, while the cold begins with mild symptoms. If you are suffering from influenza you may have a fever or the chills, have a sore throat or runny nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Adults may also get diarrhea or vomit, although these two symptoms are more common in children with the flu.
How does the flu spread?
If you have influenza you can spread it to anyone within six feet of you. The most common way the flu virus is spread is through droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze from someone who is already infected. These droplets then land on people’s noses or mouths if they are nearby and may also be inhaled into the lungs. Some people believe that the flu virus can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching his or her nose or mouth. To avoid spreading the flu virus it is recommended that you stay home from school or work if you are sick, wash your hands frequently during cold and flu season, wash all linens, eating utensils and dishes used by someone who is sick, clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in your home, school or office.
How bad is the flu predicted to be in 2013-2014?
Flu seasons are very unpredictable. The flu usually begins to surface in October and it peaks around January and February. The flu virus is constantly changing and every year a new strain will appear. That is why it is very important that all Americans over 6 months of age should get vaccinated. If you get the vaccine early on it will protect you throughout the whole flu season.
When and where can you go to get vaccinated?
The flu vaccine is available at all major pharmacies, clinics, and large department stores such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Fred Meyer and Target. You can also ask your doctor where you can go to get a flu shot. No appointment is necessary at most clinics offering the flu shot.
Don’t hesitate, call your doctor, pharmacy or google “flu shots” to find the nearest clinic and get vaccinated today.