Getting an annual influenza vaccine is important, says Beeson

According to Montgomery County Public Health Administrator Samantha Beeson, one of the most important things one can do for their health and the health of others is to get an annual flu shot.
Health experts annually push the importance of the flu vaccine for all demographics. Flu shots are recommended as early as September, with the typical flu season beginning in October and peaking between December and February.
“It is very important to be vaccinated each year to prevent this disease,” said Beeson. “Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect yourself and your family.”
She added having the flu might expose family, friends and co-workers to an infection that kills an average of 36,000 people annually in the United States.
In addition to getting an annual flu shot,  frequent hand washing is also a good way to avoid serious illness from the flu, she said.
Beeson said she’s always surprised by the number of people who don’t get a flu shot because of the misconception it causes the flu.  
“This vaccine is a killed virus, it cannot make you sick,” Beeson reiterated.”By taking precautions and getting the flu vaccine, it could reduce a person’s symptoms or could prevent them from getting influenza at all.”
 It takes up to two weeks after a flu vaccination for a person to achieve full benefits against the virus. The CDC recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months. The vaccine is paid for through most insurance companies as well as Medicare/Medicaid.
Similar to COVID, a person with the flu may pass the illness to someone else before they know they are sick or while they are sick. Another similarity is that both illnesses are transferred through droplets.
“Most healthy adults are able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick,” said Beeson.
 The flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. The illness typically lasts two to seven days and can cause a healthy person to be bed-ridden for days. Once the symptoms start, they usually last for 10 to 14 days. Many of the symptoms of influenza are also those of COVID-19.
Beeson said although most of those who get influenza will rebound health wise, there are serious health issues related to flu to those who are 65 years and older, those with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, pregnant people and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
Other viruses that begin circulating in the fall include the rhinovirus/enterovirus, which are infections that cause the common cold. It may also cause ear infections, sore throats and sinus infections and lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Another virus that makes the rounds annually is the “stomach bug” that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Contrary to popular belief, this illness is not caused by the influenza virus, but rather the norovirus, Beeson explained.
According to the CDC, the noroviruses causes 19 million to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S. per year. The illness lasts from one to three days, comes on abruptly and has a quick recovery time.


The Red Oak Express

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