It's flu season, and the single best way to prevent the seasonal flu is by getting yearly vaccines.
The vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. There is no live virus in the flu shot.
Plan to get shots early for you and your family for the best protection throughout the season, which ends in late winter and early spring.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone age 6 months and older to get inoculated from influenza or the contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses.
Your age and that of your children might put you and them at greater risk of having problems with the flu. Children younger than 6 months old are too young to get shots, but the best way to protect them is to make sure other people in their families get their shots.
Most children who died from the flu last season were not vaccinated, according to the CDC. For more information about pediatric deaths since the 2004-2005 flu season, visit the CDC’s interactive web tool. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu-related complications and approximately 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu, according to the CDC.
Resources for keeping your family flu free:
Plan to get your flu vaccines early if you or your children are part of one of the following groups:
- Pregnant women
- Children 6 months and older; consult a pediatrician to confirm if your child requires two doses given at least 28 days apart
- Anyone 6 months or older with a chronic health problem such as asthma, kidney disorders, heart disease, cancer or an impaired immune system as they are at higher risk for problems from the flu
- Adults 50 or older who may be at high risk to get flu complications
“Severe influenza complications are most common in children younger than 2 years old,” according to the CDC.
Each year, about 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications.
The flu comes on suddenly and causes mild to severe illness, including death. People who have the flu may feel or show some of the following symptoms:
- Chills or feverish
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea
In addition to vaccines, the best ways to prevent transmission is prolonged and thorough hand washing using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers as well as practicing good health habits, and try to avoid close contact with sick people.