Flu Season Is Here Flu Season Is Here
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The 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.
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; and;
• About 36,000 people die from flu.
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
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, it is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that certain people should get vaccinated each year. They are either people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.
People who should get vaccinated each year are:
1. 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.
2. 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 include:
• Fever (usually high)
• 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 pneumonia, ear infections, 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. Most healthy adults 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.