Flu season is arriving – a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
Flu is a serious contagious disease that may lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Getting a flu shot is the smartest thing you can do this season.
What is the Flu Shot?
The flu shot is an injection of inactivated (dead) flu viruses. While there are several different flu viruses, the flu vaccine can protect against the three flu viruses that research determines to be the most common. The flu vaccine is also available in a nasal spray form for people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. The flu shot is not a live virus so you cannot get the flu from it. Complications may involve allergic reactions and pain or soreness at the injection site along with some mild flu-like symptoms that will clear up on their own. It takes two weeks for the flu shot to be fully effective. If you are exposed to the flu virus before the end of that time, you may still develop the flu.
Who should get the Flu Shot?
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu each year. For those who are at high risk of serious flu illness, it is especially important to get vaccinated. This includes health care workers and those living with or caring for high risk individuals. Children who are younger than 6 months of age are considered high risk, but are too young to be vaccinated—so their caregivers should be vaccinated to protect them from getting it. People who may be at high risk include: children under 5 and especially under 2 years old, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health conditions.
What else can I do to protect against the Flu?
In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, there are some additional ways you can protect yourself and others.
- Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes as germs can spread this way.
- If you are sick with the flu or flu-like illness, the CDC recommends staying home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever has subsided.
- When sick, limit your exposure to other people to keep from infecting them.
St. Petersburg General Hospital urges you to get a flu shot. Visit our online health library to learn more about the flu and why it is so important to protect your family this flu season. Don’t get the flu; get a flu shot and fly though flu season in good health.