By: Theo Smith, NHC Communications Intern
Flu season has officially begun. It’s important for everyone, especially people with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers, to get vaccinated every year against the flu virus, which can change each season.
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), last year's flu season was one of the deadliest in the past 40 years. An estimated 80,000 people died, including 180 children. If flu vaccination rates in the U.S. increased by only five percent: 483,000 illnesses, 232,000 medical visits, and 6,950 hospitalizations associated with the flu could have been prevented.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can infect others with the flu one day before flu symptoms appear. This means that you are able to pass the symptoms to someone else before you even know you are sick. The best way to protect against the flu is to get the flu shot.
People who are most at-risk for serious complications from the flu include:
- Those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or any disease that decreases their immune system
- Young children (even healthy children) and pregnant women
- The elderly
Babies under six months of age are too young for a flu shot, but are high risk for complications from the flu. So new moms, dads, and grandparents should get vaccinated.
Since the flu virus spreads easily, even healthy children and adults can become sick. Each flu strain is different and can range from a mild fever to life threatening pneumonia.
The CDC provides a free flu shot location tool, to find a clinic near you that offers the vaccination.