Flu season is here and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend getting your annual flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available. Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a variety of viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
An annual flu shot is needed because flu viruses are constantly changing, according to Mercille Locke, R.N., infection prevention program manager at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield. Also, the protection offered by a flu vaccine declines over time, which is why annual vaccinations are important.
Each year, laboratories around the world collect flu viruses to determine what strains will be most active during the upcoming flu season. From this information three virus strains are selected for the flu vaccine that is offered in the fall. The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as September and continue as late as March.
Talk to your physician about receiving this year’s flu vaccination. More information can be found at NorthBay.org.