3 Important Things to Know About the Flu

Stay well this season with these tips

Photo: Girl receiving bandage on upper arm after vaccination.

“Influenza is a highly contagious and serious illness that still causes deaths each year,” says Scott W. Lindquist, M.D., state epidemiologist for communicable diseases and deputy health officer for the State of Washington.

If you don't want to spend your winter laid out on the sofa with the flu, getting vaccinated is a very good idea. Getting the shot is fast, easy, effective, and safe. Here’s what Dr. Lindquist wants you to know before flu season begins:

1. The Flu is Preventable
The flu vaccine is your best protection against the virus. Every year, a panel of medical experts looks at the types of flu viruses that are currently making people sick. They also look at what types of flu people came down with last year. This information lets them make a vaccine for the flu strains likely to cause trouble now.

2. Some Are More At-Risk Than Others
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who get the flu will get better in a couple of weeks. Some can develop complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus or ear infections.

The following groups of people may get serious flu-related complications that require hospitalization, so it’s especially important they get the shot after speaking with their doctor:

  • Children five or younger, especially those younger than two years old
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women and those up to two weeks postpartum
  • Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • People with asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease

3. Don't Wait for Your Shot
The flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to work. Get your flu shot as soon as it becomes available in your area.