It’s that time of year again. We’re well into flu season, and actually we’re in the height of it now. You’ve been dealing with COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) for months, protecting yourself and your family from this novel virus affecting the entire world – and the flu (influenza virus) is yet another serious viral infection that travels the world.
However, we’ve known about this virus for a very long time. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 (H1N1) was one variation of the flu virus. There was another pandemic in 1957, the Asian flu (H2N2). In fact, each year a combination of flu strains change just enough that a revised vaccine is developed by scientists to combat the illness which is expected that year.
Because we know so much about the viruses that cause influenza infections, we are greatly prepared to prevent and treat the illness. However, we are all susceptible to catching the flu, and some people are more at risk of developing severe illness from the disease than others are.
The good news is that a lot of what you’ve already been doing to combat COVID-19 will help you to prevent catching the flu. Let’s talk about what the flu is, what you can do about it, and where you can go for preventive treatment for your whole family.
What Is the Flu?
Influenza is a very contagious respiratory illness that occurs seasonally during the winter, creating regional outbreaks while it travels around the world. Each year it is caused by variations of different strains of the virus.
The symptoms are usually fever, chills, achiness, fatigue, weakness, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat. However, what really differentiates the flu from a regular viral cold is the speed in which the symptoms hit you. You might get up and go to work in the morning feeling fine, but have to leave before lunch because you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. Most people feel poorly for about a week or less, but complications like pneumonia can also occur.
How Does It Spread?
The flu is transmitted from person to person via droplets that are expelled while coughing, sneezing, or even talking, and others breathe in the air that has the tiny droplets. Spread of the flu virus can also occur by touching a surface that has virus-filled droplets on it, which is why washing your hands and avoiding touching your face are so important.
After coming in contact with the virus, the incubation period is up to 4 days. Before you get symptoms, you can be contagious – but your most contagious period will be while you are experiencing symptoms.
The Importance of Flu Vaccination
It is recommended that every person beginning at 6 months of age receive a flu vaccine every year. There are different formulas to meet different needs. Some are egg-based, so if you have an egg allergy, you should discuss which vaccine you should get with your healthcare provider.
All injectable forms of the flu vaccine are not live virus. Many people falsely believe that you can get the flu from a flu shot – which simply isn’t true. If you received the flu shot and then got the flu, that is because you were already infected before you received the injection. That fact alone reinforces how important it is to get the flu shot early, before flu season, if possible.
If you feel a bit sick during the day after you get the shot, that is your immune system working to build immunity after it encounters the vaccine. You may also catch a common cold virus, as this is the same time of year as the cold season, but that is not influenza.
People who are over 65 receive a special, high-dose vaccine to protect them adequately from the flu. And if you have someone in your family who cannot receive a flu shot because of allergies or other medical reasons, it is vitally important that everyone else be vaccinated in order to protect them – preventing the virus from entering your home as best as you can.
Urgent Care Center in Fairless Hills, PA
The flu can be a very serious illness, especially in the very young, the very old, and the chronically ill – but it can also keep you or your kids home from work or school for a week, feeling miserable. This has been a very trying time, dealing with a pandemic, but it has also prepared you for protecting your family from the flu virus. Just make sure you all get your flu vaccinations.
If you have any further questions about the flu, the flu vaccine, or any other preventive health measures, or if you would like to arrange to get the flu vaccine, please call Patient Care Now Urgent Care in Fairless Hills today at (267) 202-6433. We look forward to helping you achieve your highest level of health.