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What Everyone Should Know About Seasonal Flu and the Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Seasonal flu is not just a really bad cold. The flu is a contagious illness that affects the nose, throat, lungs and other parts of the body. It can spread quickly from one person to another. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a flu shot or flu spray vaccination every year.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious complications from seasonal flu. This includes women who are pregnant. If you are pregnant, the flu is more dangerous for you. Those who live or work with people who are at high risk should get vaccinated against seasonal influenza.

The flu vaccine is not approved for use in children younger than 6 months old but their risk of flu complications is higher than for any other child age group.

The best way to protect children younger than 6 months is to make sure members of their household and their caregivers are vaccinated.

You can't get flu from getting a flu vaccine!

The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It stimulates your body to produce antibodies. These antibodies provide protection against infection by flu viruses.

The flu vaccine takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to provide protection against influenza virus infection. Until then, you are still at risk for getting the flu.

How the virus is spread

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something - such as a surface or object - with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Every year in the U.S., on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu,
  • More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu complications and;
  • Flu is estimated to cause about 3,000 to about 49,000 deaths per year. About 90% of such deaths occur in persons aged 65 years and older.

Information on the Influenza Vaccine

Information on Influenza

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