Flu season is here, usually considered to be at its peak between the months of October and May. Flu is a contagious disease that spreads usually by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Anyone can get the flu, but the risk of getting the flu is highest among children. Symptons come on suddenly and may last several days. They can include: fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose. Flu can make some people sicker that others. Those people include young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions–such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system. Flu vaccine is especially important for these people, and anyone in close contact with them.

Each year thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized. Flu vaccine is the best protection from flu and its complications. Flu vaccine also helps spreading flu from person to person. There are two types of flu vaccine: The inactivated flu vaccine, which does not contain any live influenza virus. It is given by injection with a needle, and often called a flu shot. A different, live, attenuated ( weakened) influenza vaccine is sprayed into the nostrils.

Flu vaccine is recommended every year. Children 6 months through 8 years of age should get two doses the first year they get vaccinated. IT takes about two weeks for protection to develop after the vaccination, and protection lasts several months to a year. People who should not get the flu vaccine include people who have any severe (life threatening allergies) or anyone who has ever had Guillain-BarreSyndrone.

The Benton County Health Department is giving the flu vaccine daily during regular business hours. As of last week, the department had given over 200 flu shots.

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