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Prevention is the best medicine, FL Dept of Health urges: Get the flu vaccine

Prevention tips and most-at-risk identified

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The flu season is here and the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) wants to encourage you to ward off the flu by getting vaccinated.

After vaccination, it takes about 2 weeks for the body to develop protection. Flu shots are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu and its potentially serious impacts. The vaccine is safe and recommended for everyone six months and older, including pregnant women. To locate a flu shot near you, contact your health care provider or use the Florida Department of Health’s flu shot locator: www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot.

What is flu?

Flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. There are 2 main types of influenza viruses: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in individuals (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu each year.

Flu can cause mild to severe illness. Fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and headaches are common symptoms. Some groups, such as older adults, young children, individuals who are pregnant, and those with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications.

How does flu spread?

Flu can spread through respiratory droplets made when individuals with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Symptoms can begin about 2 days (but can range from 1-4 days) after the virus enters the body. Additionally, some individuals with flu can be asymptomatic, meaning that they have no symptoms.

You may be able to pass on flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick:

  • Those with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
  • Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Some individuals, especially young children and those with weakened immune systems might be able to infect others with the flu for an even longer time.

What are the benefits of getting a flu shot?

Every flu season is different, and flu can affect everyone differently. It can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or result in a more serious illness. Seasonal flu shots are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

All flu shots in the U.S. are “quadrivalent” vaccines, which means they protect against 4 different influenza viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and 2 influenza B viruses.

Getting a flu shot:

  • Can keep you from getting sick with the flu.
  • Can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization and death.
  • Can reduce the severity of illness in those who get vaccinated but still get sick.
  • Is an important preventive tool for individuals with certain chronic health conditions.
  • Helps protect individuals who are pregnant during and after pregnancy.
  • Can be lifesaving in children.
  • Can protect you and those around you.

Additional prevention steps you can take:

  • practice good hygiene by properly and frequently washing your hands  
  • make it a habit to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces in your home, school, or office
  • coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoiding touching your face
  • if you are sick, stay at home to mitigate the transmission of the virus

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