As August days slip by, September – and a new school year – are right around the corner. Your community knows the typical drill to prepare for the back-to-school season: school supplies, a well-stocked fridge, warmer clothes – the list goes on. One thing to make sure they add to their list: the flu shot.
Vaccines Keep Us Safe
Yes, vaccines are still very important. We often take for granted how well they protect us from infectious and preventable diseases. Not convinced? Get this – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- There are 14 diseases parents can protect their children from before they turn two years old.
- Diseases are becoming rare because of vaccines and the protection they offer.
- If we stopped vaccinating, diseases that are very rare would come back. There would be epidemics of diseases that are nearly under control today, and lives would be lost.
- Vaccines have stopped countless cases of preventable diseases and saved millions of lives.
What Is the Flu, Anyway?
Seasonal flu is an infectious respiratory (breathing) illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Getting a flu vaccination each year is the best way to prevent contracting seasonal flu.
Some people, such as seniors age 65 and older, children younger than age two and people with certain health conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes or heart disease), are at high risk for serious seasonal flu complications.
Flu viruses mainly spread from person to person when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks and droplets of saliva containing the germs land in your mouth or nose. You may also become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth,
nose or eyes.
The CDC says that, every year in the United States, on average:
- 5%-20% of the population gets the flu.
- More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications.
- About 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
More on the Flu Shot
The flu shot is a vaccine containing a dead virus (which can’t make you sick) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot can be given to people older than six months.
Virus strains in the influenza vaccine are updated to keep up with the changes in the circulating
flu viruses. So, to be protected from the flu, get a flu shot every year.
The yearly flu shot is usually available from September through December/January. The earlier a person gets vaccinated, the better his or her chances are of avoiding the flu. To find nearest flu shot location, use the Flu Vaccine Finder.
Note that the flu shot protects you from seasonal flu, not pandemic flu.
For Those on the Road
Are members of your team taking advantage of the last bit of summer to get out of town – or out of the country? In addition to their flu shot, they should ensure that they are up to date on their vaccines before they take off. They can fill out this quick form from the CDC’s website. Based on their health and travel destination, they may need to update their vaccinations.
For more information on various flu and public health concerns products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Preparing for Influenza and Public Health Preparedness.