Influenza (flu) activity is starting to increase across the country just as friends and family are coming together for the holidays. Getting a flu shot is the best line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself, and those around you, from getting the flu.
The flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States. The majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in people 65 years and older, but even healthy young children and younger adults can have severe disease or even die from influenza.
“One of the biggest myths about getting a flu shot is that is that it gives you the flu. I’m here to say it has been scientifically proven that the flu vaccine does not give you the flu,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “December 3-9, 2017 is National Influenza Vaccination Week and I encourage everyone who has not gotten their flu shot this season to get it sometime during the week to help protect you and those you care about during the holidays and beyond.”
The flu is a respiratory illness that can cause a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and headaches. Vomiting or diarrhea are not typical, but can occur, especially in children. Flu can also lead to more serious complications such as pneumonia. Antibiotics will not treat flu, but you can ask your health care provider about antiviral medications.
Flu vaccination can reduce illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. While no vaccine is 100 percent, a flu shot may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
In addition to getting a flu shot, IDPH recommends following the 3 C’s: clean, cover, and contain.
- Clean – frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Cover – cover your cough and sneeze.
- Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
Check with your local health department or your health care provider about getting a flu shot. You can also find a place near you to get a flu vaccine with the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.