What You Should Know for the 2015-2016 Flu Season

Flu Season 2015-2016

Within a few months, we will once again be dealing with the Cleveland cold weather and snow! And along with the cold and snow comes sniffles and sneezes – colds and flu. Although the common cold makes us feel terrible, it is often quick to resolve and usually leaves no lasting problems. On the other hand, the flu can be much more serious!

Flu season is known for an increased number of flu cases and typically occurs during the winter months. Flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last as late as May. Most flu activity typically occurs between December and February.

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms often include fever, aches, chills, and congestion that can last up to 2 weeks.   In some cases, an individual must be hospitalized due to complications such as pneumonia that can arise from the flu. And even in some rare instances, a person can die from complications of the flu. Young children and the elderly are more likely to develop serious problems. Although it is not possible to predict what the flu season will be like this year, we can better protect ourselves!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious illness. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after the flu vaccine becomes available, if possible by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventative actions like staying away from the sick people and washing your hands frequently. Also, if you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the flu to others.

The flu vaccine is available for individuals 6 months of age and older. All of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine is made to protect against three flu viruses (two type A viruses and one type B virus.   Some vaccines even protect against an additional B virus). Although we cannot identify the exact flu virus that may cause most illnesses this year, the CDC gathers data and trends then predicts the most likely flu viruses that will circulate therefore flu vaccines can be created to combat those viruses.

As the winter months start to creep up on us, remember to stay warm and healthy. Schedule your flu shot today!

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