Flu season is upon us. Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. The most common flu symptoms are…
Patients with uncomplicated flu usually improve gradually over two to five days. However, the illness may last for more than a week, particularly among young children. Ongoing cough for longer periods is common. Persistent weakness and feeling very tired may last for several weeks in older children.
An annual flu shot (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
Flu vaccines (the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine or “LAIV”) cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. It is important to note that you are still susceptible to getting the flu during the two week period.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.
Remember: It’s never too late to get the flu vaccine. Call your Middlesex Hospital Primary Care provider today to schedule an appointment or ask about the flu shot during your next office visit. We hope these tips will help to keep you and your family healthy this flu season.