Along with jaunts to Ellijay for apples, including a sweater in our daily wardrobe, and ads for Medicare Open Enrollment, October is the month in which we discuss with our medical professionals whether (or when) to take our FLU SHOTS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated annually. And the flu “shot” may include one of three injectable vaccines, or a nasal spray vaccine.
What Is “The Flu”?
Seasonal influenza (“the flu”) infects the respiratory tract – nose, throat and lungs – often with severe illness or life-threatening complications.
Flu symptoms generally come on suddenly, with patients complaining of fever (not everyone with flu will have a fever), chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. People may suffer from a few or all of these symptoms.
Complications may include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections. Individuals asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at increased risk of complications, if they contract the flu.
Between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population contracts seasonal influenza each year, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications, according to the CDC.
Why an annual vaccine?
A person's antibody against the influenza virus declines over the course of a year, and - unlike other diseases - the flu may present as a different strain (or strains) of influenza viruses that mutate quickly, requiring re-vaccination.
Seasonal flu vaccines provide protection against three of the more common strains: H3N2 (commonly known as “bird flu”), Influenza B and H1N1 (also known as “swine flu”).
Why is there a different vaccine for people over age 65?
There are actually three types of flu shots and a nasal vaccine:
To ensure protection for the entire flu season (October through April, in the U.S.), healthcare professionals recommend getting vaccinated in October and November.
Need to find a location to get vacinated? Use the online resource here.
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