"The flu is highly contagious, so it is important to get a flu shot and take everyday preventative actions," said Abraham Tekola MD. "The flu vaccine contains "killed" flu viruses that will not cause the flu, but will instead prepare the body to fight off the live virus."
Even if a person received the vaccine last year, it won't protect then from getting the flu this year. The protection wears off and flu viruses constantly change so the vaccine is updated each year to include the most current strains of the virus. The flu vaccine reduces the average person's chances of catching the flu by up to 80 percent during the flu season. Because the vaccine prevents infection of only a few of the viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms, it does not guarantee against getting sick, but it generally means that a person who received the flu shot will have fewer and milder symptoms.
Vaccination against the flu is strongly recommended for older adults because the seasonal flu can be very serious, even deadly.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), each year in the U.S., deaths from flu-related causes range from 3,300 to 48,600 (average of 23,600), and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from serious flu complications. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older. Contact your doctor for more information about getting a flu vaccine.
The other key way to reduce the risk of catching or spreading the flu is to take every day preventative actions. "This means avoiding contact with people who are sick and staying home when you are sick. It also means properly covering your coughs and sneezes with elbow rather than your hands. This will prevent germs from being spread to everything you touch. It is also important to wash your hands." said Abraham Tekola MD.
Good hand washing techniques and washing hands often will also help protect against flu. Be sure to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails. Rinse completely, and dry hands with a clean towel and, if possible, use the towel to turn off the water.
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