Flu season is in full swing, generally lasting from October until May, but peaking between December and February. Everyone is at risk of getting the flu regardless of geographic location, but it does spread more easily when the air is cool and dry. Flu season in America is one of the most predictable epidemics due to the way it coincides with the weather year after year. As soon as the leaves begin falling, the flu begins to spread, and if you haven’t had a flu shot, you’re more susceptible for contracting the virus.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
Everyone who is 6 months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals who experience only hives after exposure to eggs may still get a licensed flu vaccine. People with other reactions after exposure to eggs may still get the flu vaccination, though at a medical setting and supervised by a health care provider. Those at high risk for viral infections, like those taking immune-suppressant medications, and children and elderly individuals should be vaccinated for the flu. Children, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems can have a more difficult time fighting the flu and may have complications that can be fatal.
When to Get Vaccinated
The best time to get vaccinated for the flu is at the onset of flu season—before the end of October is best. As soon as area pharmacies begin administering the flu vaccines, you should get one. If you haven’t already, there is still time. Once you get the flu shot, your body begins developing antibodies to fight against the flu virus. You should be protected against the flu two weeks after the shot, so it’s important to get it sooner, rather than later.
Controlling the Flu Epidemic
Every year America experiences an epidemic that we call “flu season”. Thousands of students miss school, adults miss work, and many individuals even die due to complications from contracting the flu. There is no way of recording the actual number of flu cases each year because not everyone seeks medical treatment, however the CDC estimates between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses were caused by the flu each year since 2010. Keep your family from becoming one of these statistics. Ask your family physician about flu vaccinations if you haven’t had one this year. Plan ahead for next year, because in some cases children need to two doses to be fully protected. Other things you can do to prevent the flu in your household include:
- Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or shirt sleeve
- Avoiding covering or touching the mouth with hands
- Throwing away tissues immediately
- Blowing your nose with tissues and teaching children to do so
- Discarding used tissues in a wastebasket
- Replacing toothbrushes after sickness and every 6 weeks
- Disinfecting surfaces regularly including door knobs, light switches, and railings
- Avoiding shared utensils and food or drinks with others
For more information, about flu prevention or to find specific information cited in this article, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.