Influenza - Seasonal Flu
What causes influenza?
The flu is caused by two basic types of viruses, type A and B, which are differentiated by their genetic makeup and cause respiratory illness. Influenza A can cause moderate to severe illness in all age groups. Influenza B causes milder disease and affects mainly children.
How does the influenza virus spread?
Influenza can be spread through the air from the respiratory tract of an infected person. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with respiratory droplets. Coughing, sneezing, and nasal secretions are primary sources of spreading the virus.
What are the symptoms of influenza and how long do they take to develop?
Influenza is typically characterized by abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat and a non-productive cough. Additionally, symptoms may also include runny nose, headache, burning sensation in chest, and sensitivity to light. The incubation period for influenza is usually two days but can range from one to four days.
How serious is influenza?
Influenza is sometimes mistakenly categorized like the common cold, however, each year influenza causes many hospitalizations and even death.
What are some possible complications of influenza?
The most frequent complication of influenza is bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is a less common complication but is much more serious. Some other complications include inflammation of the heart and worsening of pulmonary diseases.
What is the best way to prevent getting the flu?
The best way to prevent influenza is with the annual vaccination as soon as it becomes available. The vaccine provides coverage against the strains most likely to cause the illness. It is an inactivated (killed) vaccine, and therefore does not actually “cause” the flu.
Is there an alternative to vaccination in preventing influenza?
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. However, here are some additional steps to help prevent the spread of influenza:
Who should receive the vaccination?
Anyone ages 6 months and older who do not have contraindications to the vaccine.
Who should not receive the vaccination?
Generally, the inactivated injectable vaccine can be given to everyone except children under 6 months old, however, there are some exceptions:
When should people be vaccinated?
Influenza vaccine is given each year. This is because immunity decreases after a year and because each year’s vaccine is formulated to prevent only that year’s anticipated influenza viruses. It should be given as soon as it becomes available. This usually can be as early as August or September. Vaccination should continue into the winter and spring, even until April or May.
Where can YOU get vaccinated?
Food City is now offering flu shots in our pharmacies. The cost is $27; however, many insurance plans are accepted including Medicare. If you are a member of Food City’s ValuCard Discount Club the cost is $21. Most pharmacy locations accept walk-up patients. For more information about vaccinations, speak with your Food City pharmacist.
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