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The Flu Season Is Here:

What You Should Know About The Flu and Why The Flu Shot Won't Give You The Flu

By Laurie Rothman, M.D.
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What is the flu?
Influenza, or "the flu" is a highly contagious, viral respiratory infection transmitted through close contact or indirect contact with an infected person.  It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times even lead to death. Each year 5%-20% of the US population gets the flu. Usually, flu is transmitted person to person through coughing or sneezing. Once contracted, the flu takes 24 to 48 hours to show symptoms. Flu virus is transmittable before symptoms present and after they have resolved. The risk of infection increases for people with chronic illness or immune deficiency, pregnant women, the elderly and those who live in close quarters during an outbreak. Young children and adults over 65 are more likely to have serious complications. The recovery from influenza without complications is 3-14 days.

How can you decrease your chances of getting the flu?
1) Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
2) Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and touching your mouth, eyes, and nose.
3) Get plenty of sleep, exercise, manage your stress and eat a healthful diet.
3) Get vaccinated every year!

Who should get a flu shot?
Anyone who wants to reduce their risk of becoming ill from influenza should get a flu shot.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all children and adolescents 6 months to 18 years of age, people over 50, pregnant women, and health care workers should get vaccinated. In addition, anyone with a chronic illness such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease or asthma should get a flu vaccine.  The CDC also recommends that people who are in close contact with those at higher risk should get vaccinated.
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Dr. Rothman is a Board Certified Family Physician with Healthy Families, a Juno Beach, Florida based practice, specializing in extraordinary, compassionate, primary healthcare to family members 10 years old and up.