Influenza or the Flu
- Last Updated: 11.21.13
Influenza or "flu" is a viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs that can make anyone sick. It is not life threatening in healthy individuals; however, older people, young children, pregnant women and those with chronic health problems are more likely to become seriously ill or be hospitalized by the flu.
Symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, runny nose, cough, muscle aches and headaches.
Persons should consult with their physician before getting the seasonal flu shot if they
- have ever had a severe reaction to eggs or to a previous dose of flu vaccine,
- have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or
- are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled.
When is the best time to get the vaccine?
Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community. Vaccination before December is best since this timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest.
People should get vaccinated every year. Even if the current flu vaccine protects against the same flu viruses as the previous year's vaccine, immunity to flu viruses declines over time and may be too low to provide protection after a year.