A: Influenza, or the flu, is an acute viral infection that spreads easily from person to person. It is an airborne disease, spread by coughing and sneezing. This virus circulates worldwide and can affect anybody in any age group. Believe it or not, the CDC estimates that on average 36,000 people die from influenza in the U.S. alone annually, while approximately 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to Influenza.
So how can you prevent the flu? The CDC recommends that everyone who is at least 6 months of age get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include individuals who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu, people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, pregnant women, people younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), people 65 years and older, and people who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications. Some people who should not get vaccinated — always consult with your physician first.
This year, there are two types of flu vaccines available, the traditional one that protects against three different flu viruses and one that protects against four different flu viruses. The CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.
Information provided by 21st Century Rehab at Dallas County Hospital, 610 10th St., Perry, 465-7672.