Dec 1-7, 2019 is National Influenza Vaccination Week
It's Not too Late to Vaccinate!
National Influenza Vaccination Week: December 1-7, 2019
Flu season is here. Every December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes National Influenza Vaccination Week to remind everyone six months of age and older that it's not too late to vaccinate. Get your flu shot and #fightflu today!
Read on to get all of your flu questions answered.
WHAT IS THE FLU?
Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms of the flu may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Some people may confuse the flu with a cold, but it's important to note that colds are caused by different viruses than those that cause the flu.
HOW IS THE FLU SPREAD?
The flu is contagious; that is, it can spread easily to others. Most experts think that the flu is spread when a person with the illness coughs, talks, or sneezes, and then germs land in the nose or mouths of others nearby. Though rare, a person can also contract the flu by touching a surface that has the flu virus on it, and then touching their own nose, mouth, or eyes. Most people with the flu are contagious from one day prior to symptom onset (before you even know you are sick!) to about three-four days after.
WHO IS AT RISK OF GETTING THE FLU?
Anyone, even healthy individuals, can get the flu. Some populations, including those aged 65 and older, pregnant women, children younger than age five, and people with certain chronic medical conditions, are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu is to get vaccinated. A vaccine triggers your body to create germ-fighting proteins, or antibodies, against particular germs so that if you come into contact with those germs, your body is already prepared to fight them.
You can also minimize your risk of getting the flu by staying away from people who are sick, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and washing your hands frequently.
WHAT'S IN THE FLU VACCINE?
Each year, flu vaccines are developed based on what particular flu viruses scientists believe will be in circulation that year. Most flu vaccines protect against four different flu viruses ("quadrivalent"), while some protect against three influenza viruses ("trivalent").
There are several types of flu vaccines: inactivated influenza vaccine and recombinant influenza vaccine, both of which are administered intramuscularly with a needle, and the live attenuated influenza vaccine, which is a nasal spray.
CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends any one of these options, with no preference for one type over another.
CAN THE FLU SHOT GIVE ME THE FLU?
No, flu shots cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccines administered with a needle contain either killed influenza virus, or only a single gene from an influenza virus, neither of which can give you the flu.
The nasal spray contains live influenza virus, but the viruses are altered so that they cannot give you the flu.
Some people report mild reactions to the flu vaccine, including soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling at the administration site. Low grade fever, muscle aches, or headaches may also occur. However, it's important to note that potential side effects of getting vaccinated against the flu are much less severe than symptoms you would experience if you actually became ill with the flu.
WHO SHOULD GET THE FLU VACCINE?
The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older receives a flu vaccine with rare exceptions. Get more information about who should (and should not) get vaccinated .
WHEN SHOULD I GET THE FLU VACCINE?
It's best to get vaccinated by the end of October, before influenza viruses typically begin to circulate. It takes your body several weeks after vaccination to develop antibodies to the flu. However, even when given at a later date during the flu season, the flu vaccine can still provide protection against the flu. It's not too late to vaccinate!
WHERE CAN I GET THE FLU VACCINE?
The Sussex County Office of Public Health Nursing located at 201 Wheatsworth Road in Hamburg, NJ (Hardyston Township) will be open for flu shots on Mondays and Thursdays from 2 – 4 p.m., starting November 18, 2019 through January 30, 2020. The office will be closed on November 28, 2019 and January 20, 2020 for holiday observance. Appointments are not necessary. For additional information, contact the Office of Public Health Nursing at 973-579-0570, ext. 1211 or visit www.sussex.nj.us/health.
Flu vaccines are offered in many doctor's offices, clinics, health departments, and pharmacies. Check out CDC's Flu Vaccine Finder to find out where you can get a flu shot today.
Learn more about:
National Influenza Vaccination Week
Symptoms and Complications of Flu
Misconceptions about Flu Vaccines
Vaccine Information Statements (VIS)
Photos courtesy of cdc.gov.