Influenza (flu) is a contageous disease that spreads around the U.S. every year, usually between October and may. Flu is caused by the Influenza virus, of which there are many strains, and is spread mainly through coughing, sneezing and close contact. Anyone can get the flu. It strikes suddenly and overpoweringly. Symptoms include fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, runny nose and headacke. It can be differentiated from the common cold by fever and muscle aches and rapid onset.
Each year thousands of people die of the flu. Flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, making flu less severe if you get it and keep you from spreading the flu to your family and others.
Flu vaccine is recommended every year. Children 6 months to 8 years may require two doses. Check with your pediatrician on this. Some "inactivatyed" flu vaccines contain a very small amount of mercury-based preservative called thimerasol. No health effects have been established by its use. There is no live virus in flu shots. As such, you cannot catch the flu from the shot. However, it takes about tweo weeks to become fully effective. You can contract the flu in the meantime.
Some people should NOT get vaccinated. These include anyone who has had Guillian-Barre' syndrome in the past; anyone with severe, life-threatening allergies or if you have a fever and not feeling well. In that instance check with your doctor.!
After the vaccination. look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, high fever or unusual behavior. Sorness at the injection site is not unusual. Also mild fever, headache or body aches may occur. Report any side effects to your doctor. You casn learn much more by visiting the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent or by callimg 1-800-CDC-INFO .