As families begin to prepare for fall festivities, the Florida Department of Health recommends adding one more thing to your to-do list this season—getting a flu shot! The flu shot is the best way to protect families and communities against the spread of influenza. Those who get the flu shot early decrease the risk of getting the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and some serious outcomes of infection can result in hospitalization or death.
Certain groups of people are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot. These groups are adults 65 and older, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and individuals of all ages with certain chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or morbid obesity.
The flu shot is recommended for all Floridians 6 months of age and older on a yearly basis. There are a few situations when a flu shot is not recommended. This includes individuals who had a previous serious reaction to a flu shot, or those with a history of the neurologic condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
The flu shot is widely available, and it takes just a few minutes to reduce the risk of illness. Flu shots are offered in many locations, including doctor offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools, and the health department. While it may be tempting not to take the flu seriously, it remains a leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in the United States.
Take these steps to help protect yourself against the flu.
- Get the flu shot.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or elbow.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, including fever, headache, severe cough, runny nose, or body aches, see your primary care provider as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medications is important, plus it can help you recover more quickly and even help prevent complications.
Don’t let the flu bring a damper to this enjoyable season. Be proactive, and take these simple steps to minimize the chances of getting sick this flu season. For more information about the flu, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/flu.