With flu season right around the corner, a flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. According to the Aurora Health Care Quarterly Health of Wisconsin Report, only one in four people are concerned about the flu and one third of people nationally never get a flu shot. The following are answers to the most common questions physicians typically receive about the flu vaccination:
Why do I need a flu shot?
The seasonal flu can cause serious, life-threatening complications and illnesses for people of all ages. On average, the flu causes 36,000 deaths and 226,000 hospitalizations in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control also reports that about 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized for flu-related complications and about 100 children die. Getting a flu shot is extremely important during this time of the year and also decreases your chances of catching the virus.
Who should get the vaccine?
Everyone! It not only protects you but also your loved ones that may be suffering from chronic illnesses.
How is the flu spread?
The virus is spread through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. The virus can also spread when someone touches something with the virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes or nose.
When should I get vaccinated?
Flu season is usually around late December to March, so the best time to get a flu vaccination is sometime in October or November.
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) suggests that everyone who is more than 6 months of age get a flu vaccine. For children 6 months to 8 years of age, two doses of vaccination might be appropriate. Remember that for the elderly, young children, and pregnant women, getting a vaccination early is extremely important.
Will I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
No. Because the vaccine is made from dead viruses, you cannot get the flu from viruses that are no longer living.
What are the risks of getting the flu vaccine?
As with any other medication, there are risks to getting a flu shot. In rare cases, the vaccine could cause an allergic reaction. The chances of a flu shot causing serious harm or death is extremely small. If you have an egg allergy, a history of immune deficiency or a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome you should talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine.
What are some other steps I can take to prevent the flu from spreading?
During flu season, take preventative measures to reduce your chances of catching the flu such as:
¦ Staying away from sick people and wearing a mask to protect yourself if you suspect someone around you might have the flu
¦ Periodically washing your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water
¦ Strengthen your body’s immune system by working out and sleeping eight hours every night
¦ Disinfect surfaces and objects that could easily be contaminated with germs
If you are sick with the flu, stay at home and do not go to school or work in order to prevent spreading the virus.
Talk with your health care provider if you have any questions or want to make an appointment for a flu shot. Remember that getting a flu vaccination is the best option for you and your family to stay healthy this upcoming flu season.
Dr. Hiba Sheikh is an internal medicine physician at Aurora Bay Area Health Center, 4061 Old Peshtigo Road, Marinette. Her office can be reached at 715-732-8100.