Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a highly-contagious, acute viral infection that typically occurs between October and March. The virus can be passed from one person to the next before the first symptoms have even had time to develop. It affects millions of people around the world every year and represents a major public health issue.
Avoid the flu by getting the vaccine and following a few simple rules
The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. Flu viruses are constantly changing, which means that you need to get the flu vaccine every year before the start of the flu season. The flu vaccine is updated on a yearly basis to protect against circulating strains of the virus.
There are many misconceptions about how effective the flu vaccine is in preventing the virus. People who have received the vaccine do not usually get the flu. In some cases, the vaccine may be less effective, but it still helps to reduce the risk of developing a severe flu infection and complications. Remember that other viruses with flu-like symptoms can circulate during the flu season. However, the flu vaccine does not protect against these viruses and they should not be confused with the flu virus.
Vaccination offers two advantages: if you get the flu vaccine, it provides direct protection for you and indirect protection for others around you, especially your family and loved ones, by helping to stop the virus from spreading. In this context, health care workers are strongly encouraged to get the flu vaccine as well as anyone who has regular contact with babies under six months of age as they are too young to be vaccinated.
Vaccination is also recommended for risk groups that are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu. Those at risk include children under five years of age, pregnant women, people aged 65 and over as well as those with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems.
There are also simple things you can do to reduce the risk of being contaminated or passing the virus onto others. Remember to regularly wash your hands during flu season and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throwing away used tissues as quickly as possible.
Flu can cause serious complications
Contrary to popular belief, the flu is not just a bad cold and preventing this infection is important. Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include fever, cough and headaches as well as joint and muscle pain. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe. Anyone can get the flu, whether you are young, old or in the prime of life.
Symptoms typically last about a week. However, the flu can have serious consequences for vulnerable people, causing severe lung infections and, in some extreme cases, leading to death.
Seasonal flu can cause serious complications, so make sure that you protect yourself and your loved ones.