Community information: Red Cross reminds everyone flu season is here and to get vaccinations now

The 2019-2020 flu season is here and the American Red Cross urges everyone to get their influenza vaccine now. Millions of people in this country get sick with flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and, unfortunately, tens of thousands die. The best way to help avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated every year.

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and most times peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving your vaccine for the antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body so it’s important to get your vaccine now.

Children 6 months through 8 years of age who need 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available as to the second dose must be administered at least 4 weeks later.

At high risk for flu:

· Adults 65 years and older

· Children younger than 2 years old - although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at high risk for serious flu complications, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years old, with the highest hospitalization and death rates among infants younger than 6 months old.

· Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy

· People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

The CDC also reports people with the following health and age factors are also at an increased risk of getting serious complications from the flu:

· Asthma

· Neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions

· Blood disorders

· Chronic lung disease

· Endocrine disorders

· Heart disease

· Kidney disorders

· Liver disorders

· Metabolic disorders

· People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher

· People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.

· People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will help protect you throughout the 2019-2020 flu season.

Do I have the flu?

The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

· Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.

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