It's Not About You. Protect Them. Get a Flu Shot.
When you vaccinate against flu, you don't just protect yourself. You protect your family and everyone around you who is vulnerable to this deadly virus. Flu is a dangerous lung illness that spreads easily. Every year, hundreds of New Yorkers die from complications caused by flu. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from flu.
What Is Seasonal Influenza (Flu)?
Seasonal influenza, commonly called “flu,” is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract (the nose, throat, and lungs) and can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications.
What Are the Symptoms of Flu?
Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, and headache are common symptoms of flu. The flu usually comes on suddenly.
What Are Possible Complications from the Flu?
Some of the complications caused by flu include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Children may get sinus problems and ear infections. The flu can cause mild to severe illness for days, and in some cases can lead to more serious health problems and even death.
Who Is Considered High Risk for Flu Complications?
Those at high risk for serious flu complications include but are not limited to:
- Pregnant women
- Children under five years
- Adults over 65
- Nursing home residents
- People with health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, asthma, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, kidney or liver disease, metabolic disorders, weak immune systems, and children/adolescents receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
What Should I Do To Protect Myself from Flu This Season?
- Get the flu vaccination. It is important to note that as long as flu viruses are circulating in the community, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. For optimal protection, aim to get vaccinated as early as October.
- Wash or disinfect your hands thoroughly before eating; upon arrival at work and arrival at home; and whenever they are dirty.
What Should I Do To Protect My Child This Flu Season?
- If you are pregnant, you should get the flu shot. When you get the flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu, which can be passed to your unborn baby to protect the child for up to six months after he or she is born.
- Children younger than six months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get the flu vaccine. If you live with or care for an infant younger than six months of age, you should get a flu vaccination to help protect them from flu.
- Children between six months and eight years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart. A health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses.
How Many People Get Sick or Die From Flu Every Year?
- It is estimated that every year in the United States, about 5% to 20% of the population gets flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications.
- Each year, more than 2,000 New Yorkers die from flu-related illness.
Is the “Stomach Flu” Really the Flu?
The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease. Many people use the term “stomach flu” to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. Such symptoms can sometimes be related to the flu — more commonly in children than adults — but are rarely the main symptoms of influenza.
If I Believe I Have the Flu, What Should I Do?
- If you feel ill, and especially if you are coughing or sneezing, stay home
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not your hand or the air. Dispose of tissue and thoroughly wash your hands
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth
- Avoid touching the phones, keyboards, pens, eating utensils, and personal equipment of others. If you do use such an item, clean it – and your hands – with a disposable disinfectant wipe following use
- If possible, avoid touching communal objects such as door handles, elevator buttons, sink faucets, and the like. Use the back of your hand or a tissue whenever you can.
Where Can I Get a Flu Vaccination?
All HHC facilities offer flu vaccination at no charge for all patients, visitors, and personnel. They are also offered by doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, and many employers.
Can I Get the Flu From the Flu Vaccine?
No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal spray. The flu shot contains inactivated (killed) flu viruses that cannot cause illness. The nasal spray contains weakened live viruses.
Will I Have Any Reaction to Flu Vaccine?
Most people have no reaction whatsoever. Any reaction is generally mild and disappears within one to two days. Reactions may include:
- soreness, redness, or swelling at the vaccination site
- mild fever
- body ache
Is There Any Reason I Should Consult My Doctor Before Getting the Flu Vaccine?
You should speak to your doctor before receiving flu vaccination if you:
- have had a major previous reaction requiring medical care to either flu vaccine or to eggs
- have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Can I Get Vaccinated and Still Get the Flu?
- You can still get the flu if you are exposed to a flu virus before vaccination or during the two-week period that it takes the body to develop protection after getting vaccinated.
- The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common, but there are many different flu viruses that circulate every year and you may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine.
How Long Does Flu Vaccine Protect Me from Getting the Flu?
It’s important to get a flu vaccination every year, even if the specific viruses in the vaccine have not changed for the current season.