It’s hard to imagine Summer’s coming to an end. For many families enjoying the summer, the flu season may seem like it’s far away. Truth is, the start of the next flu season is only a month or two away. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season occurs between October and May of each year. The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. When you get the flu vaccine, you’re not only protecting yourself, but also neighbors in your community, including those children with weakened immune systems.
Don’t let this year’s flu season catch you by surprise. Here’s what you need to know about the flu and how to prepare kids for the upcoming 2018-2019 flu season.
What is Influenza (Flu)?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and complications. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Signs and Symptoms of Flu
Children who have flu may feel some or all of these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Complications of Flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma.
The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Getting a yearly vaccine is especially important for young children because they are at increased risk of getting severe illness from flu. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent hand washing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
When should I get vaccinated?
You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.
Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.
Stop by for a consultation, and to get your flu shots today.