October is here, and influenza is on the way
After a hot summer, many of us in the Delaware Valley are relieved that cooler weather has finally arrived. Unfortunately, the coming of fall and winter also brings influenza season. Have you gotten your flu shot yet?
What is the flu? The flu is short for influenza. Influenza is a contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract. Flu symptoms are similar to cold symptoms, but they usually come on much faster and make you feel much worse. They include severe aches in your muscles and joints, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever, flushed skin, and sometimes pain around your eyes. Influenza is much more serious than a common cold and in some cases, can be fatal.
The flu is spread through contact with the virus itself. You can pick it up through the air, for example if someone with the virus sneezes and you breathe in the particles. You can also transmit the virus by touching objects that may contain the virus, for example, using the infected person’s cell phone, and then wiping your nose. Because of the severity of influenza, the CDC recommends getting a flu shot. Here are five great reasons to do it.
1. A flu shot can keep you out of the hospital or even save your life
Influenza is a serious illness. Flu sufferers can end up in the hospital if they become dehydrated, acquire pneumonia, or develop sinus or ear infections. Influenza can even be fatal in some of the most serious cases. Getting a flu shot will not guarantee 100% that you will not get the flu, but at least it offers some protection and increases your chances of avoiding the flu.
2. If you plan to work in a medical facility, it may be a requirement.
If you plan to work in a doctor’s office you may be required to have a flu shot. By having your flu shot, you hopefully will not catch the flu from one patient and pass it on to other patients.
3. You can’t get the flu from the flu shot. That’s just a myth.
Some people believe you can actually get the flu from the flu shot. This is just a myth. The vaccination uses a dead version of the virus, so it cannot make you sick. You may have a few side effects, such as a runny nose or a sore throat for a few days after the shot, but these symptoms will not last long.
4. You don’t even have to make an appointment to get a flu shot
There are many places to get your flu shot. If you want to go with your regular doctor, simply call and set up an appointment. There are also walk-in options such as pharmacies and other healthcare providers where you don’t even need to make an appointment. What could be easier?
5. You will help keep yourself—and others—healthy this flu season
Have you heard of “herd immunity”? It’s the concept that if everyone gets vaccinated, a virus doesn’t have the chance to take hold and spread. By getting your flu shot, you will not only help protect yourself from getting the flu, but you will help out those around you. In other words, if you don’t get the flu, then you can’t spread it to someone else.
Flu season begins as early as October, so now is the time! If you have never gotten a flu shot before, you should check with your doctor to make sure the flu shot is safe for you. Here’s to a happy fall and winter for you!
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