Influenza (flu) season is once again here and is important to consider a preventative program for you and your family. The flu virus is unpredictable and can be severe as flu related deaths over a period of 30 years from 1976 and 2006 have ranged from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 deaths.

Flu is considered highly contagious and is spread by the influenza virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms of the flu can include: fever /chills; cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting/diarrhea,& at times without fever. The virus is spread to others one day prior to symptoms appearing and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. High–risk individuals such as children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women, adults 65 years of age and older, American Indians and Alaskans Natives, & people with medical conditions affecting the pulmonary, cardiovascular and immune systems should be immunized.

The best way to prevent and/or minimize the symptoms is to have a flu vaccination. Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every year. There are three types of injectable influenza vaccines: flu shots with inactivated vaccines that are given by needle; a high dose vaccine given for people 65 years & older (made available in 2010-2011); and an intradermal vaccine for people ages 18 to 64 years of age (offered for the first time in 2011-2012 season).In addition, to the injectable vaccine, there is a nasal-spray flu vaccine for healthy people ages 2 to 49 years of age and are not pregnant. Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting their physician. They include: people with a sever allergy to eggs, people with severe allergies to the vaccine, people with fever, & people with a history of Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome.

The first defense in preventing the flu is vaccination. Along with receiving the flu vaccine, it is also important to remember to wash your hands frequently and to cover your cough to prevent the spread of infection.

¹2011,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;