Still time to get flu shot

January 9, 2013

It’s not too late to get vaccinated against the influenza virus. State health officials are reporting that the flu season took off earlier than expected.

Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection.

An estimated 5 to 20 percent of people in the U.S. get influenza each year.

“Influenza is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat and a nonproductive cough,” according to Denise Pratz, R.N., infection control preventionist at Lake Granbury Medical Center.

Influenza can make people of any age ill. Although most people are ill with influenza for three to five days, some have a much more serious illness and may need to be hospitalized. Influenza can also lead to pneumonia and death.

Influenza types A and B are responsible for epidemics of respiratory illness that occur almost every winter. Efforts to control the impact of influenza are focused on types A and B.

Influenza type C usually causes either a very mild respiratory illness or no symptoms at all.

It does not cause epidemics and does not have the severe public health impact that influenza types A and B do.

Pratt noted that immunizations given each year to protect against the flu contain the influenza virus strain from each type that is expected to cause the flu within that year.

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