It’s Time for Your Annual Flu Vaccine.

Although many of us are grateful that the weather is finally turning cooler, it also reminds us that flu (influenza) season is here and it’s time to get the vaccine.

Generally, the yearly up-tick in flu activity begins as early as October and continues as late as May.

It’s Not Just a Cold.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses, but is different from a common cold. The illness ranges from mild to severe and can even lead to death. Older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions are at highest risk of developing serious complications from the flu.

Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What Are the Symptoms?

Unlike a cold, the flu usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or congested nose, body aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

How Is It Spread?

Unfortunately, it’s fairly easily to spread. Viruses can travel in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. You can get infected, for example, if the virus lands in your mouth or nose. Another way the flu is spread is by touching a surface that has the flu virus on it and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose.

Once exposed to the flu, it usually takes one to four days until symptoms begin. So, you can spread the illness to others before you are aware you are sick.

It’s Time to Get the Vaccine.

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu, according to the (CDC). The CDC also recommends that everyone six months and older get the vaccine by the end of October.

Although the vaccine is widely effective, some people may still get sick. However, the illness is usually milder.

Finally, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional if you have questions or concerns about getting the flu vaccine.

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