Got flu shot?

flu preventionGuest Blogger: Maria Michas, MD, MPH, FACOEM, Associate Vice President and Medical Director, Employee Health Services, Occupational Injury Care and Wellness 

Have you gotten a flu shot this year to protect yourself against influenza? Influenza, (commonly called the flu), is an illness caused by viruses that can infect the nose, throat and lungs. Flu viruses are spread by droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks and the droplets land in the mouths or noses of those nearby. Because droplets can also land on surfaces or objects, a person may also get infected after touching contaminated surfaces or objects.

Flu viruses may cause mild to severe illness with symptoms that may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Know if You’re at Risk for Complications

Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at greater risk for complications, such as young children, pregnant women,  people over the age of 65, and those with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer or HIV/AIDS). Complications of the flu may include ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, asthma attacks, dehydration, worsening of chronic medical conditions, hospitalizations and in some cases even death.

Why Haven’t You Gotten Your Flu Shot?

The best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting the flu shot. Flu vaccinations can help reduce flu illnesses and hospitalizations, flu-related doctors’ visits and missed work and school days. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends yearly flu vaccines for everyone six months of age and older.

Other preventive measures include avoiding close contact with people who are sick; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand rub; and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

If you have not yet received your flu shot, it’s very important that you see your doctor right away. Because different flu vaccines are available, your doctor will determine the best vaccine product for you depending on your age, health status, and if you have had any previous allergies to vaccines. Your doctor will also be able to inform you if you should not receive the flu vaccine.

Join the Conversation. What are your reasons for not getting the flu shot?

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