The Flu Fighters
It’s that time of the year again when everyone starts talking flu season – more specifically, about how important it is to get your flu shot.
Flu season can begin as early as October, and usually peaks in January and February. It takes two to four weeks to develop immunity after vaccination, so for full protection throughout flu season, you should consider getting vaccinated as early as September.
Seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. People who have the flu usually have symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Some more serious cases of influenza have resulted in hospitalization or death.
It’s possible to have the flu and not even know it; otherwise healthy adults can pass on the flu to someone else one day before feeling symptoms. And you can keep infecting others with the flu up to five to seven days after you become sick. No matter how healthy you are, anyone can catch the flu – that’s why getting your annual flu shot is so important.
“The flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself and others from getting the flu this season,” said Lisa Esolen, M.D., Geisinger Health System’s medical director of Health Services and Infection Prevention and Control.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone age six months and older get a flu shot every year. The shot is designed to defend against the top three or four flu viruses that research shows will cause the most illness during the flu season.
While the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself this season, there are some other precautions you can take to avoid getting sick.
“Try avoiding close contact with people who are sick with flu-like symptoms and wash your hands regularly to reduce the spread of germs. If you do become sick with the flu, you should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading it to others,” Dr. Esolen recommended.
Other habits that can prevent you from getting sick include covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose; and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is sick. If soap and water aren’t available to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Call Bucknell Student Health at 570-577-1401 to schedule your annual flu shot.