Prevent The Flu Prevent The Flu
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the week after Thanksgiving, November 27 to December 2, as National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). This event is designed to highlight the importance of continuing influenza (flu) vaccination through the months of November, December and beyond.

This year, Tuesday, November 27, 2007, is set aside as Children’s Flu Vaccination Day, with a focus on protecting children at high risk of flu-related complications. Each year, more than 20,000 children under 5 years old are hospitalized as a result of influenza complications. This day will help raise awareness about the importance of vaccinating high-risk children and their close contacts against the flu.

Learn more about as National Influenza Vaccination Week. You can see events around the country, download free materials, and even submit your own organization’s activity for others to see.

For healthcare providers, some materials are available in Spanish for your Spanish-speaking patients. Visit the “Free flu materials” section of the flu Web site for free downloads.

What is influenza (also called “The Flu”?)

Influenza, also called flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.

Every year in the United States, on average:

• 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;

• More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, including 20,000 children less than 5 years old; and;

• About 36,000 people die from flu. About 90% of the deaths are in people 65 years and older, but some deaths occur in children each year as well.

Preventing Flu: Get Vaccinated
The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but getting vaccinated during December and beyond still provides protection, as flu season normally peaks in January or later.

For more about preventing the flu, see the following:

• Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine (Key Facts in Spanish)

• Influenza Antiviral Drugs

• Good Health Habits for Prevention

Who Should Get Vaccinated
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC recommend that anyone that wants to decrease their chances of influenza should get a flu vaccine. However, certain people are particularly targeted for influenza vaccination to prevent people at high risk from influenza-related complications from getting the flu. People for whom it is especially important to get the flu vaccine include people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications themselves, AND people who live with or care for these high risk people.

Infants less than 6 months old are at very high risk of influenza complications, yet there is no vaccine for children this young. So, it is especially important to vaccinate people who live with or care for infants to prevent influenza from being passed on to these children.

People for whom a flu vaccine is especially important:

• People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

• Children aged 6 months until their 5th birthday,

• Pregnant women,

• People 50 years of age and older, and

• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;

• People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

• Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)

• Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

• Healthcare workers.

Symptoms of Flu
Symptoms of flu can include:

• Fever (usually high)

• Headache

• Extreme tiredness

• Dry cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle aches

• Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur
but are more common in children than adults

Complications of Flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial infections like pneumonia, ear infections, and sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

How Flu Spreads
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Influenza viruses from an infected person may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.