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Influenza Information for Consumers

Remember -- the Flu ends with YOU.

Influenza, more commonly referred to as "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs. Influenza occurs most often in the late fall, winter and early spring. It is a serious infection which afflicts more than 60 million Americans every year.

Influenza impacts people of all ages. Common symptoms include a high fever (101ºF-102ºF) that begins suddenly, sore throat, chills, cough, headache and muscle aches. Influenza frequently causes people to miss school and work but in some cases there are severe complications such as pneumonia. Each year, more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized and about 36,000 die from influenza-related complications.

The best way to protect against influenza is to receive an influenza vaccination every year. While anyone can get vaccinated, health authorities make specific recommendations for those at higher risk of complications. This includes adults 50 and older, children 6 months through 18 years of age and anyone with a chronic medical condition (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease). Health care workers, parents, and others who live or work around people at increased risk of influenza should get vaccinated as well to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus to susceptible people.

The best time to get vaccinated is in October and November. However, vaccination in December or even later is still beneficial because the virus that causes influenza circulates past the New Year. The number of influenza cases usually peaks around February, but this peak can come earlier or later (ranging from December to May). It takes the body two weeks after getting vaccinated to build immunity to the flu virus.

Last modified on: 12/20/2016 12:58 PM