While everyone is at some risk of catching the flu, the CDC says some groups are more susceptible than others. These groups include both younger children, obese individuals, older people, anyone with a chronic health condition, and pregnant women. Those at a higher risk of the flu should make sure to get the flu vaccination each year to protect themselves.
The flu, or influenza, is a contagious viral infection. It affects the respiratory system (the lungs, throat, and nose). The symptoms include things like a cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, chills, aches, and runny nose. An annual flu vaccination is the best defense against the flu virus. The vaccine is recommended for anyone age 6 months and over.
Every year, tens of thousands of people die from flu complications, while hundreds of thousands are hospitalized. The flu can affect anyone, but some people are at a higher risk of suffering from serious complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. These complications make the likelihood of hospitalization, and death, much higher.
Preventing the Flu
To prevent the flu, especially if you are in one of the groups at a higher risk, make sure you get the flu vaccine. Take preventative steps every day. Don’t touch your face without washing your hands first. If a family member is sick, make sure wash your hands after coming into contact with them, or with anything they’ve touched. Keep hand sanitizer nearby, too.
During flu season, it’s a good idea to keep all surfaces (desktops, keyboards, phones, kitchen counters) clean. Use disinfecting wipes or sprays.
And always to remember to sneeze into your elbow, or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Be sure to throw away tissues after each use.
It’s important to get your flu shot is before flu season starts. The CDC recommends getting the vaccine before the end of October. As soon as you receive the shot, your body will begin to make antibodies which help protect you from the flu. Generally it will take nearly two weeks for your immune system to fully respond and for these antibodies to provide protection from the flu.
Additionally, it’s important to remember you’ll need to get the flu vaccine every year, as the flu virus changes over time. Each new season will bring a new version of the flu shot. These updates are designed to keep you safe. If you are in a high-risk group, make sure to be vigilant about getting immunized.