About Influenza or "The Flu"
Influenza or “the flu,” is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The symptoms include fevers, chills, sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, and body aches. The illness can be mild or more severe and even result in death. Influenza is most dangerous in children younger than five years of age, the elderly, immunocompromised patients, pregnant women, and those with other medical conditions such as asthma. School-age children may get mild to moderate flu symptoms but spread it to these high-risk groups. Most of the people who die from influenza are older than 65 but last year almost 150 children died from the flu.
We recommend an annual influenza vaccine for everyone older than six months of age. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that “the single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season.” For the strongest protection, the vaccine should be given before influenza develops in the community. Children aged six months through eight years need two doses of the vaccine during their first vaccination season for optimal immune response. After that, yearly vaccination is sufficient.
Available Influenza Vaccines
The Flu Shot - an inactivated vaccine (containing the killed virus) is given with a needle. The most common side effects are soreness and redness at the injection site. Less common side effects include muscle aches and low-grade fever.
After Getting the Influenza Vaccine & Prevention Tips
Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially after sneezing or coughing
Teach your children to cover their nose and mouth with sneezing or coughing
Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
If you or your child get sick with the flu or other illness, stay home and away from others until 24 hours after your fever is gone