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Don’t Take Chances With the Flu
Boosting your chances of avoiding the flu isn’t complicated. You can decrease your risk of catching it this season by taking one simple step: Get a flu vaccination.
Seasonal influenza-the flu-is caused by one of several strains of influenza viruses (type A or B) that infect the nose, throat and lungs, making life miserable for a week or two for many people—and deadly for some. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season can begin as early as October and continue to as late as May. It usually peaks in January or February in the United States.
The best defense against the flu is to get immunized. Depending on your age, you can do that in one of two ways:
Focus on Prevention
Flu viruses are spread by contact with droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Inhaling these droplets is the most common route to getting the flu, but many people also become infected by touching objects on which droplets have landed. You can spread the virus to others before you even feel sick yourself. The CDC states that people are infectious one day before symptoms begin and up to five to seven days after becoming ill.
You can protect yourself against the flu by doing simple things like washing your hands often, not putting your hands near your face or in your mouth and staying away from sick people. You don't need special cleansers when washing your hands; washing for at least 20 seconds with ordinary soap works fine. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol based hand rub can be used. If someone in your family has the flu, clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.
“Adverse Events After Receipt of Live, Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV),” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/adverseLAIV.htm.
“Community Immunity (Herd Immunity).” Vaccines.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. vaccines.gov/basics/protection/index.html.
“How Vaccines Work.” Vaccines.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. vaccines.gov/more_info/work/index.html
Influenza Vaccine Information, by Age Group: United States, 2012-13 Influenza Season, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/vaccines.htm.
Influenza Vaccine (Inactivated) What You Need to Know, CDC www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.html.
“The Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine [LAIV].” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray.htm.
“Prevention and Vaccination,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.flu.gov/prevention-vaccination/index.html.