NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Colder weather comes with boots, sweaters, scarves and sniffles as cold and flu season arrives.
During this time of year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is reminding members of the community of the importance of getting an annual flu shot.
Influenza is a serious lung disease caused by a virus, which spreads from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache and sore throat.
Although many are only sick for a few days, thousands die each year. The virus can make anyone ill – most deaths are in people over age 50 and it is also particularly dangerous for young children. Serious complications, such as pneumonia can lead to hospitalization.
“The flu is a very real health risk. The best thing you can do to protect yourself, your children and the people around you – particularly those with compromised immune systems – is to get your flu shot,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotion Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “There are a lot of myths that exist surrounding the flu shot, but the reality is that it is a safe, effective way to reduce your risk of getting the flu and to help you recover more quickly if you do get sick.”
Everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu shot, particularly those with a chronic condition, caregivers of those at high-risk, students and those in institutional settings, residents of long-term care facilities and pregnant women.
Other important tips for flu prevention include regular hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough by coughing into your elbow, disinfecting surfaces in your home and workspace, and eating well along with drinking enough water.
The vaccine will prevent most strains of the flu and though it isn’t 100% effective as the virus changes frequently, it will decrease the severity of the illness if you do get the flu. The vaccine is developed yearly based on the strains expected to be most prevalent and it takes one to two weeks to take effect, but will protect you for several months.
There are vaccines specifically for those over age 65 designed to create a stronger immune response, so ask your doctor for more information.
The vaccine cannot cause the flu, but it will not prevent other illnesses you may contract around the time of receiving the vaccine, and it can cause some side effects – including temporary fever or aches – though most people have no reaction at all.
For more information, visit vnacommunityhealthcare.org/fight-the-flu.
VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century old nonprofit, donor-supported organization with a rich tradition of offering exceptional home healthcare services and extensive community care resources to more than 35 towns in southern Connecticut. The original visiting nurse associations of Branford, Guilford, Hamden, North Haven and Madison, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is now a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement. The agency partners with patients and caregivers to provide support, education, and guidance as needs change.