It's that time of the year again to ensure that you and those around you are protected from flu. Now is the time to get your seasonal flu vaccine if you haven’t done so already.
What even is the Flu, anyway?
The flu, also known as influenza, is a virus that spreads through the droplets produced when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or even talks. It thrives between the months of October-May. The virus can spread a day before a person even has symptoms.
The symptoms of flu include:
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
- vomiting and diarrhea
Most people who get flu will be able to recover in a few days to a couple weeks, but some people will develop complications some of which can be life-threatening. Complications of the flu include pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (respiratory and kidney failure).
Who can get the flu?
Anyone can get sick with flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age. People at higher risk for the flu includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, especially those younger than 2 years old. If they do get the flu, they’re also at a higher risk for being hospitalized for flu-related complications.
How do I protect myself from the flu?
Get the flu shot! Other than the flu you can do a few things to try to protect yourself from the flu. Frequently washing your hands or using hand sanitizer and staying away from sick people. Eating well, staying active, and getting a good night’s sleep.
What’s in the Flu Shot?
Flu shot contains dead (inactive) strains of the virus. By exposing your body to small amounts of the virus it causes your immune system to develop specific flu fighting antibodie which help your immune system better fight off the flu if exposed.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Everybody over the age of 6 months, except for those who have had a life threatening reaction to a flu shot in the past. People who are high risk of getting complications from the flu should especially get the shot:
- people over age 65
- people who have chronic conditions: heart disease, asthma, COPD, stroke, diabetics, chronic liver or kidney disease, weak immune systems
- pregnant women and new mothers
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Common myths about the flu vaccine
1) "The flu vaccine will give you the flu".
The flu shot can not give you the flu because the vaccine uses dead strain of the virus. It is meant to get your body to boost your immune system. The flu shot has side effects, like soreness and redness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, and muscle aches, all of which are mild and resolve in a few days.
2) "You can't get the flu if you've gotten vaccinated."
Unfortunately you can still get the flu. However, getting the vaccine dramatically decrease the odds of getting the flu. If you do get the flu and had the flu vaccine you will experience less severe fly symptoms.