Following the flu
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. Every year in the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and; about 36,000 people die from flu. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
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About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the flu develop in the body.
When to Get Vaccinated
Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.
What to do if you cannot get a flu shot
Remember, the flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms: Fever, headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, body aches
If you feel you already have the flu you should:
Drink plenty of fluids
Avoid using alcohol and tobacco
Take medication to relieve symptoms of flu – antibiotics do NOT work
If at all possible – stay at home – do not go to work
Cover your mouth when coughing – flu is spread person-to-person
Wash hands frequently