29 December 2009
Influenza (also called "the flu") is a viral infection in the nose, throat, and lungs. About 10% to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. Some people can get very sick from the flu. Each year, about 200,000 people go to a hospital with the flu, and 36,000 people die because of the flu and complications.
It's common for the flu to cause fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness cough, sore throat, a stuffy nose or runny nose. Symptoms can last up to 2 weeks, but for some people the flu leads to more serious diseases, such as pneumonia. The influenza vaccine (the flu shot) can help protect you from getting the flu.
Who is at High-risk for The Flu?Some people have a higher risk of flu complications. If you, or any of your loved ones, are in any of these groups, a flu shot vaccine should be considered:
- All children aged 6 months up to 19 years
- All adults aged 50 years and older
- All women who are or will be pregnant during flu season
- People who are living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- Individuals who have long-term health problems
- Health care workers who have direct contact with patients
- Caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age
A great way to avoid getting the flu is to get your flu vaccine. The best time to get your seasonal flu shot is when it becomes available (October, November), but you can also get it anytime throughout the flu season (December and beyond). The seasonal flu vaccine is generally available by both nasal spray and traditional shot.
How does a flu vaccine work?
The vaccines work by exposing your immune system to a small amount of the flu virus. The body then builds up antibodies to the virus to protect you from actually getting the flu. The flu shot contains dead viruses, but the nasal-spray vaccine contains live viruses that have been weakened. Please note that you cannot get the flu from either the flu shot or flu nasal-spray. However, the flu shot is not 100% protection. It is still
What is the H1N1 Flu?
The H1N1 influenza (also called swine flu) is a respiratory infection caused by a virus found in pigs. H1N1 flu can infect humans. For more information and updates on H1N1 flu, visit the CDC website.