As we prepare to welcome the holiday season, in whatever capacity that may look like this year, beware of an unwanted guest set on spoiling the fun: seasonal flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu cases are currently low, but as we get further into the year, that could change. The flu vaccine lowers your likelihood of catching the flu, and makes it much easier to endure if you do happen to catch it.
Everybody over age six months should get their flu shot every flu season. So if you haven't gotten your flu shot yet for the 2020–2021 season, get it now. As the season ramps up, you need to be protected.
Flu vaccines, which change each year to cover the main circulating strains, are generally about 50 to 60 percent effective. To some people, this may sound like a coin toss, but in reality, that is a very effective vaccine.
AdventHealth experts like to say that getting a flu shot is like wearing a seatbelt. It won't prevent all episodes of influenza, but it will reduce the severity, and the chance of complications and death.
Impacts of Influenza
The hallmark of influenza — which is spread through coughing, sneezing and other human contact — is the sudden onset of high fever, along with a cough, chills and body aches.
Most people feel like they wake up in the morning feeling perfectly fine, and by the end of the day you're spiking a fever and feel like you got hit by a metaphorical truck.
In some situations, flu can worsen into pneumonia, and, rarely, lead to death. A few groups are more vulnerable to flu complications, especially adults over 65, very young children, pregnant women and people with underlying illnesses. But there are exceptions, and sometimes active, young and otherwise healthy people can feel the worst of it.
It's rare, but there are those cases where a child or an adult will die, even though they were healthy and had no reason to have complications. The best way to protect yourself against this serious infection is to get the vaccine.
And the benefit of the vaccine is twofold: not only will you lower your own chances of getting sick, you'll reduce the risk of passing the virus onto others which may be the best gift of all.
The more people who are vaccinated, the more protected our public will be at work, in your family and in our community.
While its best to get vaccinated before flu season starts, a shot is better late than never. Vaccines are available with multiple AdventHealth primary care physicians and at Centra Care Urgent Care locations.