The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that is caused by the influenza virus. Common symptoms of the flu include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and tiredness.
Flu season is arriving again, bringing with it a disease that affects millions of people every year and even kills thousands, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
What can you do about it?
“There is no simpler, more effective way to protect you and your loved ones from this annual health threat than the flu shot,” Amy Mahlum, ambulatory pharmacy clinical coordinator based at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, says. “It’s widely available and often won’t cost you anything because your employer might offer it or insurance will cover it.”
There are many reasons to get the flu vaccine, these include:
- Reducing your risk of getting the flu
- Reducing your risk of hospitalization and death from the flu
- Reducing the severity of the flu if you do get vaccinated but still get sick
- Protecting vulnerable family members and friends who are unable to get the flu shot
The flu vaccine is recommended by the CDC for anyone 6 months of age and older with rare exceptions. Pregnant women and individuals with chronic health conditions should be vaccinated, but if you have questions or concerns, talk with your health care provider.
The flu vaccine is available at Advocate Aurora facilities throughout Wisconsin and Illinois but can also be received from other pharmacies, doctor’s offices, clinics, and health departments. You should receive your flu vaccine once every year in early fall, before flu season begins. It is recommended to get your flu shot by at least the end of October. But even if you don’t get it then, there is still benefit to receiving it later on in the flu season if you do not get it in the fall.
One common misconception about the flu vaccine is that it can give you the flu. Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. Injectable flu vaccines are made with either a killed or less active form of the virus and won’t cause you to get the flu.
Be sure to ask your pharmacist or health care provider any questions or concerns you have regarding this year’s flu vaccine.