As flu season nears, Cleveland Clinic is offering flu vaccination clinics at numerous locations across Northeast Ohio. Information on all the clinics, including dates, times and locations, can be found at www.clevelandclinic.org/flu.
Infectious disease officials recommend everyone six months and older should get vaccinated every year by the end of October. The flu is contagious and can cause serious respiratory infection. The timing of seasonal flu activity is unpredictable and can vary, but most typically occurs between October and May. After vaccination, it can take two to four weeks for the antibodies that protect against the influenza virus infection to develop in the body. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing flu complications, such as adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, and children younger than age five. Yearly vaccination provides the best protection against flu throughout the season.
“The flu is not something to be taken lightly – every year thousands of people are hospitalized or die from the illness,” said Susan Rehm, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic. “By getting vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself and others by lessening the amount of flu that’s spread around the community.”
The 2018-2019 flu season lasted 21 weeks, making it the longest season in a decade. The CDC estimates around 42 million people were sickened by influenza, leading to up to 647,000 hospitalizations and 61,200 deaths.
In addition to getting the vaccine, you can take flu-prevention measures all season long, such as staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are prescription antiviral medications that can be used to treat influenza illness.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, dry cough, headache, sore throat, chills, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.