Are You Ready for The Flu Season?When flu season comes around, it is important to know the facts. Protect yourself and your family from infection by learningmore about the flu. Then, take steps to prevent it by following these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).What is the flu? Preventing seasonal flu: Get vaccinatedInfluenza, or the flu, is a The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. There are twocontagious respiratory illness types of flu vaccines:caused by a virus. It mayseem like just an • “Flu shots” — inactivated vaccines (containing killed virus) that are given with ainconvenience, but it can needle. There are three flu shots being produced for the United States marketbecome severe or cause life- now.threatening complications. o The regular seasonal flu shot is “intramuscular” which means it is injected into muscle (usually in the upper arm). It has been used for decades and is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. Regular flu shots make up the bulk of the vaccine supply produced for the United States. o A hi-dose vaccine for people 65 and older which also is intramuscular. This vaccine was first made Symptoms may include available during the 2010-2011 season. fever, headache, extreme o An intradermal vaccine for people 18 to 64 years of tiredness, dry cough, sore age which is injected with a needle into the throat, runny or stuffy nose, “dermis” or skin. This vaccine was first made and muscle aches. available during the 2011-2012 season. Gastrointestinal signs, such o as nausea, vomiting and • The nasal–spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses diarrhea, are more common that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated among children. The flu Influenza Vaccine”). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. spreads when a sick person LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 to 49 years of age who are not coughs, sneezes or speaks. pregnant. This sends the virus into the air. Then, other people may About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus inhale it through their nose, infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza throat or lungs. Once viruses. breathed in, the germs multiply and cause The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests symptoms. Touching a will be most common. surface with the virus and then touching your nose, Many health plans now cover flu Shots administered by in-network providers at 100% under mouth or eyes also can Preventive Care benefits. Check your schedule of benefits and confirm with your in- spread the flu. network provider that they are participating in the Flu shot program with your insurance carrier.
When should I get a flu vaccination? CDC recommends that people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community. Yearly flu shots usually begin in September. Vaccination before December is best since this timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest. Who should get vaccinated? Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Its especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. 1. Pregnant women 2. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old 3. People 50 years of age and older 4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions 5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities 6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: 1. Health care workers 2. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the fluHousehold contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months ofage (these children are too young to be vaccinated) Does flu vaccine work right away? No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way. Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu every year? There are two reasons for getting a yearly flu vaccine: • Flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the most recent and most commonly circulating viruses. • A person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time and annual vaccination is needed for optimal protection. THE GARDNER GROUP For more information visit: Managing Employee Benefits http://www.cdc.gov/flu www.TheGardnerGroup.com