Each year, influenza (flu) makes its way across the country causing widespread illness. The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that since 2010 the flu has resulted in:
9.3 million to 49 million illnesses
140,000 to 960,000 hospitalizations
12,000 to 79,000 deaths
Here is some important information from the CDC for the 2019-2020 flu season, which generally takes place from October to February.
- Flu vaccines have been updated to better match viruses that are expected to circulate in the U.S.
- Guidance on the timing of flu vaccination for both adults and children recommends that vaccination be offered by the end of October. Children 6 months to 8 years of age who need 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible to allow the second dose (which must be administered at least 4 weeks later) to be received by the end of October.
Although the CDC recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October, it’s still beneficial and should continue to be offered throughout flu season. More updates can be found here.
The flu can cause mild to severe illness. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and may include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, or diarrhea. Keep in mind that symptoms vary by individual and not everyone with the flu will experience a fever.
Flu symptoms often appear two days after being exposed and infected with the flu. However, symptoms can appear anywhere from 1-4 days from exposure. Most people recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may develop complications from the flu.
The flu can result in moderate to severe complications that, at times, can lead to hospitalization or death. Pregnant women, young children, seniors over 65, and individuals living with a chronic medical condition (ex: diabetes, cancer or asthma) are at an increased risk for flu-related complications.
To protect yourself and others, avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. Limit interaction with others if you’re sick by staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever has disappeared. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands with soap and water. Clean and disinfect surfaces and items that may be contaminated.
To learn about medical emergencies and first aid treatments, locate a CPR, AED and First Aid Instructor near you.