C writes in to ask about the flu vaccine and how necessary it really is. The answer is that it's very important.
Each year from October through early May many of us are saddled with a week or two of fever, aches and pains, weakness, and often other symptoms such as cough and nausea. This is no simple cold we're talking about - this illness can knock you flat on your back.
Worse still, for some people, especially the elderly or those with significant heart or lung disease, the flu can be deadly. Tens of thousands of people die each year from what too many of us think is just an "inconvenient illness."
That message was brought home all the more last year when the H1N1 flu virus reared its ugly head. It was a "novel" virus, one not previously seen that attacked young and old, and caused problems outside the "normal" flu season.
Getting the flu vaccine significantly lowers your chances of getting the flu. Need more convincing? This year the vaccine against H1N1 is included in the seasonal flu vaccine.
The CDC has a terrific web site dedicated to the flu and the flu vaccine that provides detailed information in a user friendly way, including which people probably shouldn't get the vaccine (turns out it's very few of us!) - the site can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
Along with getting your flu vaccine keep these general tips in mind, too:
1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night
2. Wash your hands frequently
3. Do your best to avoid being around others with the flu
4. Try not to touch your eyes, mouth or nose frequently (one of the ways the flu virus spreads)
5. Stay well-hydrated
If you do get sick please dont' be "brave" and go in to work - you'll just get everyone else sick!
The flu vaccine can be delivered through your doctor's office, but you can also now get your flu vaccine at your local Harris Teeter store.
I hope this helps, C (and I hope you'll consider getting the flu vaccine).
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **