’Tis the Season: Beat the Flu Before It Beats You

’Tis the Season: Beat the Flu Before It Beats You

Lee esto en EspañolProtecting yourself from flu can help keep the germs away for months.  Flu season peaks between December and February, but it's common to see outbreaks of the flu in other months too.

Who Needs the Flu Vaccine
The CDC says all people ages six months and older should get the flu vaccine. Children younger than nine years old may need two doses. And a higher dose may help those 65 and older, since they are at greater risk.

Germs on the Move
Flu is a respiratory disease that is spread mostly through coughs and sneezes. The flu can spread before any symptoms appear, so someone can pass along the flu without knowing they are sick. It’s just one more reason to protect yourself with a flu shot.

If You Get the Flu
Signs of the flu involve fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor. Antiviral drugs may help, but they are most helpful within the first two days of your illness.

Consider those around you. As soon as you show symptoms, stay home and avoid being around co-workers or going to public places like the gym, mall or church. To protect your family, keep to yourself in one room.

Flu Shot Protection
Each year’s flu vaccine is developed to protect against the strains of the virus that experts predict will be most common. Even in years in which the flu viruses change the shot will still offer some protection.

You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. It takes about two weeks for the shot to protect against flu virus infection.

Any side effects are most often mild. The shot may cause redness, pain and swelling. Try an OTC pain reliever or ask your doctor for more tips.

Getting a flu shot also protects the community. Being vaccinated lowers the chance that you will spread the virus, which could be dangerous for young children, older people and those with life-long health problems. Getting the shot helps build “herd immunity.” That protects people who cannot get vaccinated.

Where to Go
Flu shots are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics and pharmacies. You can also use the Vaccine Finder leaving site icon to help you find out where to get a shot in your area.

Source: Influenza, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.

Originally published October 20, 2015