What is Influenza?
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by many different influenza viruses. Each year, a handful of these viruses circulate simultaneously during “flu season,” which can run from October until May. Most flu cases are mild, lasting a few days to a few weeks. Some cases of flu can be life-threatening. Those at highest risk for complications include:
- Children younger than five, but especially younger than two
- Adults 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic medical conditions (weakened immune system, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, obesity)
About the Flu Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. The best protection against flu is to get an annual influenza vaccine. Because flu viruses are constantly changing, scientists monitor flu viruses that circulate worldwide and use their research to determine which viruses are likely to be most prevalent in the coming year.
Annual influenza vaccines normally consist of the three or four most likely viruses determined to cause widespread illness.
After receiving the flu shot, it takes 14 days to build immunity to the various influenza strains it covers. Since immunity is not immediate, it’s important to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
The flu vaccine is safe, but side effects are possible as with any vaccine. Common side effects can include a sore arm, minor aches or low-grade fever that goes away within a few days. Serious side effects are possible, but rare. A common myth about the vaccine is that you can get the flu from the shot – the influenza vaccine does not contain a live virus, so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
Prevent the Spread of Flu
- When possible, avoid close contact with those who have the flu
- If you have flu symptoms, stay home until you are fever free for 24 hours
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that may be contaminated with germs
- If you have any questions or concerns about the flu vaccine, please talk to your doctor or nurse at the Wellness Center
Click here to download our Flu Poster.