Influenza or the “flu” is a contagious viral disease that occurs every winter in the US from October to May. While anyone can get a “flu” infection, some people are especially vulnerable and at risk for severe disease. Each year thousands of people die from influenza infections and many more are hospitalized. Getting your annual flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and its complications.
The influenza virus is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact. The symptoms can occur quite suddenly. Typical symptoms are high fevers and chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny nose. Although anyone can get the flu, children, people over 65 years old, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions are at risk for severe disease and complication.
The flu virus is always changing. Each year the flu vaccine is made to protect from the virus strains most likely to cause disease. Typically the vaccine protects against 3-4 different influenza types. It takes 2 weeks to develop protection after the influenza vaccine is given.
Which flu vaccine is best for me?
Two types of influenza vaccine are currently available. It is always best to talk with your physician about which vaccine is best for you and your children. The two different available vaccines are: