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Flu Vaccination

It's Not Too Late to Get Vaccinated Against Flu

Cough. Sore throat. Muscle aches. Flu season is here, and the best way to avoid those dreaded symptoms is to get your flu vaccine.

Flu season occurs primarily in the winter, but outbreaks can begin as early as October and last until May. Everyone 6 months of age or older should get the flu vaccine each year. It usually takes two weeks after you are vaccinated for antibodies to develop and provide flu protection, so it's best to get your vaccine as soon as it becomes available. But it's not too late to get protected. Your vaccination can also help protect others who may be more vulnerable to serious flu illness.

The 2015-2016 Season

Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. Each year, experts predict what flu viruses will be the most common during the upcoming season. For the 2015- 2016 season, the vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (this is a B/Yamagata lineage virus)

Some of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine will also protect against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). This is a B/Victoria lineage virus.

Typically, one dose of the flu vaccine can protect you for the duration of the flu season, even as your antibody levels decline over time. Children 6 months to 8 years may need two doses of the vaccine for ample protection from the flu bug.

Flu Signs and Symptoms

If you do become sick with the flu, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fever or feeling feverish/having chills (though not everyone with flu will have a fever)

Fighting the Flu

Flu viruses are spread mainly by the droplets made when people with the flu sneeze, cough, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. You might also become infected by touching a surface or object that is contaminated with the flu virus and then touching your own mouth, eyes, or nose.

But there are preventive steps you can take to stay healthy. To limit your exposure to the virus, avoid contact with others who are sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, and frequently disinfect surfaces or objects that may be contaminated with flu germs.

If the Flu Does Strike

If you do catch the flu, you may be able to pass it along to someone else before you start to experience symptoms, and between five to seven days after becoming sick. Young children—and those with weakened immune systems—may be able to infect others for a longer period of time.

When symptoms hit, antiviral drugs may reduce their severity, help shorten the time you are sick, and prevent serious complications.

But the single best way to prevent the flu? A flu vaccine each season.

Find Out More

Winter 2016 Issue: Volume 10 Number 4 Page 12-13