Flu season is approaching. You can protect yourself and your family from the flu this season by getting a flu vaccine. It’s the first and most important step to fight the flu.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, and it can cause mild to severe illness. Each year, millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year. A flu shot can reduce illness, and that means it can also reduce the number of doctors’ visits and days of work and school missed due to flu, which leaves you more time to enjoy with family and friends. Even more importantly, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization because of complications from the flu. Flu shots are approved and recommended for everyone 6 months and older, including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions.
The Southern Nevada Health District also offers a high-dose flu immunization designed specifically for people 65 years and older. If you are in this age group, you should also ask about getting a pneumococcal vaccine if you haven’t already been immunized. The pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and up, as well as for babies and children younger than 2 years old. The vaccine offers protection against pneumococcal disease which can result in pneumonia, infection of the blood, bacterial meningitis, and even ear infections.
Because flu can cause serious illness, it is important to take step to keep yourself and your loved ones protected from flu this season.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you are sick to help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Wash your hands! Clean your hands often and appropriately to protect against germs. Use soap and running water. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Throw the tissue in a wastebasket afterward and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when people touch something that is contaminated, and then they touch their eyes nose or mouth.
- Practice good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
The flu usually comes on suddenly, and symptoms may include a fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough and sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and some people may even have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Most people who get sick from flu will get better in several days to less than two weeks, but some people can develop complications, like pneumonia, as a result of the flu. If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Visit CDC’s website for more information on what to do if you get sick with the flu.
It is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from flu to get vaccinated. “Pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are more likely to get seriously ill if they are infected with flu,” explains Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “We encourage those people to get vaccinated, but we also recommend the people around them get vaccinated to help protect those who are more vulnerable. You’re flu vaccine doesn’t just protect you, it also protects your child or grandchild, your parents or grandparents, or any member of your family who may be at-risk for complications from the flu.” See CDC’s list of people at high risk of developing flu-related complications for more information.
Although flu seasons can vary, flu is most common during the fall and winter. The single best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated. If you haven’t already, get a flu shot to protect yourself and to help fight flu this season. For more information visit the Health District’s website at www.SNHD.info or visit the CDC flu website at www.cdc.gov/flu.
Our Chief Health Officer is passionate about the importance of vaccines.