Flu Season: What you need to know
9/10/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- If you ever had the flu, you know it can knock you out - then with members of your family, friends, and co-workers not far behind.
Today, it's more important than ever to get your facts straight about the flu and the vaccines available to prevent that from happening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects that regular seasonal flu viruses will cause illness and recommends a yearly seasonal vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza.
The vaccine available today protects against the seasonal flu viruses as well as the H1N1 strain, which is expected to be most common this season. All uniformed personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces have a mandatory obligation to receive the vaccine every year, unless they are medically exempt. The vaccine is highly recommended for all other personnel.
According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, U.S. Public Health Service and CDC's Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases assistant surgeon general, people who do not get vaccinated are taking risks with themselves and those they are coming in close contact with. Flu can be especially serious for babies, young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions, and seniors who are at high risk of flu‐related complications or death.
You can get vaccinated with either a flu shot (for people six months and older) or a nasal spray vaccine (for healthy people from 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant).
It's important to realize that the influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu because the injected flu shot contains inactivated or killed viruses, and the nasal spray contains attenuated or weakened viruses and cannot cause flu illness.
If you get the flu soon after getting the flu vaccine, it means that you may have been exposed to the virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two‐week period it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated, or you are sick with a non‐flu respiratory virus that has similar symptoms of the flu. Both the H1N1 flu and seasonal flu viruses are thought to spread mostly from person to person through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with flu. You can also get sick by touching something with flu viruses and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose. Make sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often with soap and water. It's also smart to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Fight the flu by following the CDC recommended three‐step approach: vaccination; everyday preventative actions; and seeking prompt medical attention at the onset of symptoms.