Seasonal influenza, or the flu, affects millions of people every year. Fight back.
You never know when influenza will strike. As the holidays approach and people begin traveling more, we hear of more and more people coming down with the flu. Don't be one of them! Get your flu vaccine now. It not only protects yourself — it may prevent those around you from getting infected, too.
What is the vaccine?
There are two types of vaccines.
- Nasal Spray: a vaccine created from weakened virus strains and available for anyone between the ages of 2 and 49
- Flu shot: a vaccine created from dead virus strains, given with a needle and usually in the arm. This type of vaccination is available for those 6 months or older.
Who needs the vaccine?
Everyone from 6-month-old babies to senior citizens should receive a flu vaccination every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu virus is very contagious and can be contracted from as far as 6 feet away through coughing and sneezing, or through a simple touch. A healthy adult can pass on the virus a full day before they are even aware of any symptoms. That said, a few groups of people should take extra care and especially consider vaccination:
- Anyone with a weakened immune system, such as cancer patients
- People who have asthma, diabetes or lung disease, because they are at risk of developing dangerous side effects such as pneumonia
- Health care workers, who could infect those with already weakened immune systems.
- Pregnant women, to protect themselves and unborn children from complications
- Children over the age of 6 months who play in close proximity with others
A few people should not be vaccinated and should talk to their doctor about their options. These include people who are allergic to chicken eggs and those who have had a reaction to the vaccine before.
How else can you prevent the flu?
Your efforts to avoid the flu shouldn't stop with the vaccination. Other steps you can take include:
- Washing your hands with soap for a good 20 seconds. This will make those hand sanitizers far more effective!
- Avoiding shaking hands.
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with the inside of your elbow instead of coughing or sneezing into your hands.
- Stocking up on vitamin C with lots of fruit and veggies.
For more information on influenza you can visit our Health Library. If you need to make an appointment with a doctor, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center offers a free Consult-A-Nurse service that can recommend a physician and schedule your appointment. Give us a call at 1-800-446-6956.