If you're still feeling pretty chipper yourself, great! But if you want to hedge your bets, it's good to know that even though flu season is in full swing, it's not too late for the added protection of the flu vaccine.
It's a problem: Kids and adults going to work when they should stay home. Around any school or office, you hear them coughing and sneezing. Yet experts' flu prevention advice is clear: Stay home when you are sick.
The problem is, "With a lot of flu viruses, people can be infectious before they have symptoms," says Erica Brownfield, MD, a professor of internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
In fact, you're spewing flu germs even before you realize you're sick, she tells...
Flu viruses change from year to year. So each year, manufacturers develop a new vaccine based on predictions of what strains of influenza viruses will be around during flu season. In the spring of 2009, the H1N1 virus spread to the U.S. too late to be included in the regular “seasonal vaccine.” So a separate vaccine - the H1N1 flu vaccine -- was developed. For the 2010-2011 flu season, the 2009 H1N1 virus strain is included in the seasonal flu vaccine.
Flu Vaccines: Shots and Mists
The best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated, say the experts at the CDC. That means getting a flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine, preferably between October and November.
Yet there's time for prevention, even now. Flu season usually peaks in February -- though it can spike anywhere from November to May. So, getting the flu vaccine later can help protect you and others from down-time with the flu bug. And you can boost the power of prevention by:
Won't the flu vaccine make me sick? Have no fear, getting vaccinated against the flu won't give you influenza. The flu shot is made of killed virus; the mist is made of live, but weakened virus. Both vaccines may produce mild symptoms like muscle aches and a runny nose, but these symptoms are brief and far less severe than the actual flu itself.
I'm pregnant. Should I get the flu shot? Pregnant women can be particularly vulnerable to flu complications, which include pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.
If you'll be pregnant during flu season, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.