Flu Season is Coming: What You Should Know and How to Protect Yourself
As the beautiful fall season approaches, unfortunately so does the beginning of flu season. From September 30th, 2012 to September 28th, 2013 over 75,000 people in the United States tested positive for influenza, with the peak number of influenza infections in late December. Each year, 5 to 20% of the population is infected with the flu, hospitalizing more than 200,000 people and claiming the lives of an average of 36,000 individuals.
What is influenza?
· An acute, contagious, fever causing illness
· Affects the nose, throat, and lungs
· Transmitted via respiratory droplets
· Common symptoms
o Headache, fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and runny or stuffy nose
o Vomiting and diarrhea, which are more common in children
· Influenza is contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming ill
· Complications of influenza
o Pneumonia, ear infections, dehydration, and worsening of congestive heart failure, asthma, and/or diabetes
o Complications are associated with increased health care spending, hospitalizations, and potentially death
Who is at a high risk for complications from influenza?
· Adults 50 years old or older, nursing home patients, individuals with cardiopulmonary disorder or chronic medical conditions, immunosuppressed patients, pregnant women, and children
How can you avoid getting and spreading influenza?
· Receive a yearly flu vaccine
· Avoid close contact with individuals who are ill
· Wash your hands and clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
· Stay at home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone
· Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
What does the influenza vaccine protect you from?
· Immunizations protect against disease when you are later exposed to the infection/disease
· The influenza vaccine protects against the most common circulating viral strains of influenza
Who should receive an influenza vaccine?
· All individuals older than 6 months old
· Especially young children, pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals, elderly, health care workers, and those in contact with high risk individuals
· Do not get a vaccine if you have a severe allergy to a vaccine component
When should you get an influenza vaccine?
· Every year as the new vaccine becomes available- ideally in October
· Children less than 9 years old will require a second dose at least 4 weeks after their very first influenza vaccine
· Wait until moderate to severe illnesses resolve before receiving the vaccine
What are possible side effects from the influenza vaccine?
· Injection site reactions (red, sore, tender, swollen, etc.)
· Generalized feeling of illness (headache, muscle aches, nausea, fatigue)
Please ask your Degen Berglund pharmacist if you have any questions about influenza or the influenza vaccine!
All data adapted from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC – Influenza (Flu). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm. Updated August, 27, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.