December is a wonderful season full of holiday cheer. It also tends to be the beginning of the peak of the flu season. This holiday season, while you wrap gifts, decorate your Christmas tree, or partake in your family’s beloved holiday traditions- ensure you have protection from the flu.
The flu shot is effective and safe. It may keep you from getting the flu or reduce the severity of the flu illness. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the flu.
When is the flu season in the United States?
Although the flu virus circulates year-around, reported cases outside of flu season are rare. The flu season can vary annually but is marked by the cooler months- typically between the start of fall and the end of spring, with activity peaking in December and February.
What are flu symptoms?
- Fever/feeling feverish or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Who is high-risk for the flu?
Anyone can get the flu. However, some people can get severely sick from the flu. In some cases, the flu can lead to hospitalization and death.
High-risk groups include:
- Older Adults (those 65 years and older).
- Small children (those younger than 2 years of age)
- People who are immunocompromised or have weakened immune systems
- People with medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, HIV, cancer, neurological disorders, chronic kidney disease, obesity, etc.).
- Pregnant and recently pregnant people
Learn about more people at high-risk here. People at Higher Risk of Flu Complications | CDC
When should I get my annual flu shot?
The ideal time to receive an annual flu shot is early fall- preferably by the end of October. However, with peak cases reported in February and the flu still present in May, it’s never too late to get a flu shot. We recommend that everyone get their annual flu shot as soon as possible.
What can I do to prevent the flu?
Getting your annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself. In addition, there are some other things you can do to lessen your risk of contracting the flu including:
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, avoiding contact with others.
- Covering your mouth when you sneeze or coughing on a tissue. Disposing of the tissue after each use.
- Washing your hands with soap and water. Using an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap is not available.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus.