Flu Vaccine Info for This Season

September 25, 2013

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-What is the flu?
The flu is a seasonal virus...

- How serious an illness is the flu?
Every year in the United States, on average:
- 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu;
- more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications;
- 20,000 of those hospitalized are children younger than 5 years of age; and
- a range of 3,000 to 49,000 people die from flu

Anything new with the flu this year?

When is the flu season?
In America, the flu season is traditionally October through March, traditionally peaking after December....

How is the flu transmitted?
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

How do you know if you suffer from the flu vs. a cold?
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. With allergies, you will not get a fever and allergies persist, they do not go away as will a cold or the flu.

What is the cure for the flu?
There is a Tamiflu meication that diminishes the full blown effects of the flu but for most people, rest, fluids, over-the-counter fever and body ache medication such as acetaminophen is the antidote.

How is the flu spread
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

How long does the flu last?
Usually a week

How long are you contagious if you have the flu
The period when an infected person is contagious depends on the age and health of the person. Studies show that most healthy adults may be able to infect others from 1 day prior to becoming sick and for 5 days after they first develop symptoms. Some young children with weakened immune systems may be contagious for longer than a week.

Who is most affected by the flu?
The old and the very young as well as the chronically ill

What are symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms of flu include:
- fever (usually high)
- headache
- extreme tiredness
- dry cough
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults

Flu Vaccine

How can I protect myself from the flu?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. The vaccine can protect you from getting sick from these three viruses or it can make your illness milder if you get a different flu virus.

If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs are an important treatment option. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. This could be especially important for people at high risk. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

In addition, you can take everyday preventive steps like staying away from sick people, frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, especially if someone is ill, to decrease your chances of getting the flu. If you are sick with flu, reduce your contact with others and cover your cough to help keep germs from spreading.

When is the best time of year to get the flu vaccine?
Anytime between Now and February will have benefits - the earlier the betterto provide full benefit during the season.
Remember it takes two weeks after vaccination for the vaccine to provide full effect.

Can you explain the difference between the flu mist and the vaccine - which method is best for whom?

Does it matter if you get the vaccine from your physician or from a corner drugstore?
Both offer the same vaccine so it is a benefit to the community to have the flu vaccine so readily offered and available in convenient places. Having the vaccine from your physician offers the opportunity to have a conversation about overall health and talk about other annual positive health practices such as a mammogram, etc.

Anything new with the flu vaccine?
The vaccine is available in four strain and three strain formulas.

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