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Preparing for Influenza Season

As the fall and winter months approach, so does the influenza or flu season. The flu season begins in November and typically runs through March. During these months, unless you have very little contact with other people, the chances that you will be exposed to the influenza virus (what we call flu) are very high.

Nobody wants to catch the flu! In fact, it can be very dangerous. The flu is responsible for an average of 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations each year. Simply getting a flu shot can prevent illness and even save lives.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get your annual vaccination early in the Fall. This way you can be sure to be protected when the flu season peaks around the month of February. The flu vaccine is highly recommended for most individuals with a compromised immune status, adults over 50, and pregnant women who will be in their second or third trimester during the flu season. Check with your doctor if you fit any of these categories.

Below are some important facts about the influenza virus that may help you stay healthy throughout the winter and early spring.

Flu Facts

  • Flu symptoms include: fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches
  • Flu is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and the moisture droplets from the cough or sneeze are spread through the air
  • Adults can spread the flu virus for a wide range of time. One can become contagious beginning as early as one day before symptoms start to three to seven days after symptoms begin. This time range is longer for children
Tips for Preventing the Flu
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If you are sick, donít pass it on! Stay home, not only to recuperate, but also to prevent spreading the virus and making others ill
  • Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. This simple measure helps prevent the spread of germs
  • Wash your hands frequently! This helps to prevent the virus from spreading through contact
Find out more about influenza from the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
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