‘Tis the season – flu season that is! Sanjana Stamm, director of nursing at the Metro Health Department, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss how to avoid coming down with influenza this winter. View her segment here.
It’s important to get a flu vaccine every year to protect yourself and those around from you from getting sick. Flu season peaks in late November and runs through February, but it’s possible to contract the disease as early as October and as late as May. The CDC advises everyone six months of age and older to get a flu shot, and the ideal time to get vaccinated is before the end of October. If you haven’t had your vaccine by then, however, it’s never too late and better to be protected.
Symptoms of the flu can last from one to two weeks and include a fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose. Though general symptoms are usually pretty mild, the biggest danger lies in potential complications that could lead to hospitalization or death. These complications most often occur in higher risk groups, such as children younger than two years of age, seniors older than 65 years of age, and populations living in close proximity.
Regarding safety of the vaccine, it’s important to know a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Studies have proven that the vaccine is very safe and can save lives. If you get the vaccine, there’s still a risk of contracting the flu, but it lessens the severity and the illness will not last as long.
If you suspect that you may have the flu, stay at home. To further protect yourself and those around you against illness, practice good hygiene by frequently washing your hands and always covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
To find a facility to get the flu vaccine near you, contact your doctor or local health department. For more information about influenza, go to CDC.gov/flu or Health.Nashville.gov.