The Flu: Bigger General Health Risk than Ebola; Experts say get Vaccinated NOW, Before People are Sick

It’s that time of year again…. the start of flu season. Much of the media attention lately has been devoted to ebola and enterovirus D-68, but the reality is, you probably have more chance of getting the flu, which kills thousands each year and sends thousands more to the hospital.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year about 5% to 20% (on average) of the U.S. population gets the flu – and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications.

CDC stats state that between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000.

Unlike D-68 and Ebola, Vaccines Exist for the Flu

In a press release, the Washington State Department of Health reminds us that flu season here.  Although state health officials don’t know exactly when the flu will hit, how serious it will be or how long the season will last, they do know that it spreads every year and now is the time to get vaccinated against this serious, sometimes deadly virus.

“The first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself from flu is to get vaccinated every year,” says State Health Officer flu shotDr. Kathy Lofy. “Flu vaccine is available now in most provider offices and pharmacies across the state and getting it now will provide protection throughout the season. It’s not too early.”

Health officials recommend the flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as soon as providers have it on hand. It’s especially important for high-risk groups like young children, older people, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, lung diseases, heart diseases, and neurologic conditions.

There are more vaccine options available this season than ever before, which provide protection against three strains of flu virus  – and some protect against a fourth strain.

All flu vaccines offer protection and there’s no preference for one type over another – except in one case. The CDC now recommend the use of the nasal spray vaccine for healthy children two through eight years of age who do not have an underlying health condition. The Nasal spray vaccine protects against four strains of flu.

The Department of Health says NOW is the time to get vaccinated, as it takes two weeks from the time of the vaccine to become protected.

Flu Can be Spread Before Symptoms Start, Wash Those Hands

Along with getting the flu vaccine, hand-washing is a key component to keeping the flu at bay, as the virus spreads easily when someone who’s infected coughs, sneezes, or talks. People with the flu can also spread it to others before they even realize they’re sick. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and fatigue.

Some local flu shot options:

 

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