The Center for Disease Control estimates more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu or flu-related complications each year and what’s worse, 36,000 people die. In the United States, the flu season starts in October and runs through May of the next calendar year. To prepare for the fever chill, runny nose, fatigue-inducing, downright nasty virus dubbed influenza, you can get flu vaccines as early as the beginning of September. The CDC encourages individuals to receive a flu shot before the end of October.
Do you know your chances of getting the flu?
December to February is the peak flu season in the U.S., And that’s not surprising. With the busy holiday season, we run our bodies down making our immune systems weaker. Approximately 5–20% of the American population on average will get the flu. It takes one to four days for symptoms to show up if you have the flu, which makes the illness highly contagious. Most people won’t even know they have it before they’ve already passed it on to someone else. Adults can be contagious from the day before symptoms begin through five to 10 days after the illness starts. It’s important to be educated, know your chances and take precautions to prevent catching the flu, especially during this time of year.
This year’s vaccine
The CDC reports more than 160 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed this season. Since the end of September 2018, influenza A(H1N1) viruses have been most commonly reported by public health laboratories since, according to their report. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months or older should get the flu vaccine. To better match circulating strands of influenza, the vaccine has been updated this year. However, you can still get the flu and here’s why. The CDC explains you can be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes your body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. The antibodies that provide protection develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. It is also possible you may be exposed to a strand of the flu virus that isn’t included in the this year’s flu vaccine. It’s hard to predict if the current flu vaccine is a good match for the circulating viruses because versions of the illness are constantly changing during the season.
Reduce your chances of getting the flu
Get vaccinated! And take preventive measures to promote good health. To avoid catching the flu this year, exercise healthy habits to prevent spreading germs such as washing your hands frequently, coughing into your shoulder and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that could be contaminated. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because germs spread easily this way. If you know someone who gets sick with the flu, avoid close contact with them. And of course, if you come down with the dreaded flu, limit your contact with people around you. You should stay home for the first 24 hours after your fever is gone (except to receive medical care and other necessities) before you resume public interaction.