Before the leaves start to change, before SEC Football marks mid-season, even before parents start swiping the Snickers bars from their kids’ Trick-or-Treat bags, the signs of autumn appear across the South in the form of changeable letter signs in front of most drug stores advertising FLU SHOTS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all persons aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated annually. And the flu “shot” may include one of three injectable vaccines, or a nasal spray vaccine.
What Is “The Flu”?
While it has been blamed for everything from coughs to stomach bugs, seasonal influenza (“the flu”) infect the respiratory tract – nose, throat and lungs – often with severe illness or life-threatening complications.
Flu symptoms generally come on suddenly, with patients complaining of fever (not everyone with flu will have a fever), chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. People may suffer from a few or all of these symptoms.
Complications may include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections. Individuals asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at increased risk of complications, if they contract the flu.
Each year, between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population contracts seasonal influenza, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from seasonal flu-related complications, according to the CDC.
Why vaccinate every year?
Unlike other diseases such as chickenpox, smallpox or tuberculosis, the flu can be a different strain – or several strains – of influenza viruses each year, and these strains mutate quickly. Also, studies conducted over several flu seasons reveal that an individual’s antibody against the influenza virus declines over the course of a year, requiring re-vaccination.
Seasonal flu vaccines provide protection against three of the more common strains: H3N2 (commonly known as “bird flu”), Influenza B and H1N1 (also known as “swine flu”).
Why is there a different vaccine for people over age 65?
There are actually three types of flu shots and a nasal vaccine: intramuscular is the most common. It is injected into the muscle – usually in the arm – in patients age 6 months and older intradermal provides the same level of protection, but is injected into the skin of people age 18 to 64 high-dose intramuscular is recommended for people over age 65. It contains four times as much antigen as the traditional flu shot, providing increased protection for weaker immune systems nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for adults over age 50
When is the best time to get vaccinated?
In the U.S., “flu season” runs from October through April, although the majority of cases occur in December through March. According to statistics over the past 36 years, the majority of seasonal flu cases occur in February.
To ensure protection for the entire flu season, healthcare professionals recommend getting vaccinated in October and November.
Maintaining your health is easier when you are living the life you’ve always dreamed of in your low-maintenance ranch-style Windsong home. Each Windsong active retirement community was designed to help Boomers achieve a lifetime of resolutions, with walkable streets and a private fitness center in the clubhouse, neighbors with similar life-stage experiences who make great accountability partners, and home designs that maximize accessibility, minimize hassles and provide an opportunities to enjoy an active lifestyle.
Welcome home to Windsong – Where Life’s A Breeze!