How to Protect Yourself from the Flu - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on September 05, 2016

How to Protect Yourself from the Flu

As children head back to school this fall, many of us will be heading to our doctor’s office for a dose of influenza vaccine or “flu shot.” There are always questions and concerns about flu shots so here’s what you need to know this year:

First, What is Flu?

Flu (also known as influenza) is a respiratory virus that causes upper airway disease such as colds, but also lower airway disease such as pneumonia. It also can lead to disease in other parts of the body such as the heart. Illness with mostly vomiting and diarrhea is often mistakenly called “the flu,” but that is not usually influenza.

Flu Prevention Options

Flu Shot

One of the best ways to prevent influenza is to get a flu shot. It is recommended to receive a new flu shot every year for anyone age six months and older, even if you may have had the flu in the past. Some children under nine years of age will need two flu shots spaced out by at least four weeks. Your provider will be able to tell you if your child needs a second shot this year.

FluMist Nasal Spray

In the past, a nasal mist was available. However, over the past few years, the nasal flu shot did not provide as much protection as the regular injection. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control have not recommended its use as a flu vaccine option and will not be available in Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare clinics.

For this year, there are still several good flu shots options available:

  • For children age six months to three years, we have the injectable quadrivalent flu vaccine. This contains four strains of influenza.
  • For children age three years and older and all adults, we also have the injectable quadrivalent flu vaccine with the same four strains.
  • While most people with egg allergies can still get a flu shot, there is a completely egg-free injectable option that is approved for people age 18 years and older.
  • For adults age 65 years and older, we can provide the injectable high-dose flu vaccine that provides extra protection against three of the flu strains expected to circulate in our community.

It is tricky to predict what kind of flu season we will have. Every year, the flu vaccine strains are matched to which strains are circulating in our area. Flu season typically picks up in October and lasts through May, and the peak of flu can vary from December to March.

While it’s best to get your flu shot as early in the season as possible, vaccines will still be available later in the season.

Learn more about the flu.

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How to Protect Yourself from the Flu