Nobody wants to be sick over the holidays, so make an appointment online to visit your local clinic, doctor’s office or pharmacy to get a flu shot this week. It’s quick, easy and relatively painless, and offers a world of protection this flu season. Besides, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu vaccinations not just for seniors, but for parents, teens, kids and babies over the age of 6 months.
The flu season began in October and lasts until May, with the peak occurring in January and February, according to the CDC. Flu is spread by airborne virus particles when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. A person is contagious for up to a week after he or she comes down with the flu. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache and lethargy. If untreated, flu can cause pneumonia. In children it can also cause diarrhea and seizures. Those at greatest risk for developing influenza with complications are people 65 years old and older; pregnant women; and those with heart, lung or kidney disease; or who have a weakened immune system.
Vaccines for flu now come in several forms to accommodate your needs. This year you can get the typical trivalent vaccine, made up of two influenza A and one influenza B strains, or a quadrivalent vaccine, which contains an added influenza B strain. You can opt for an egg-free vaccine if you have a food allergy to eggs, which is how the vaccines are grown. Further, the vaccine can be given intradermally, under the skin, using a 90% smaller needle vs. intramuscularly, in a muscle. There’s a high-dose vaccine for those over 65 and a nasal spray, too. The CDC even offers a HealthMap Vaccine Finder so you can locate the nearest flu vaccine provider.Head to the government website, www.flu.gov, or to the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/flu, for more information on the 2013-2014 flu season.