Shots: What You Need to Know
By: Jessica Vandelay
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness
that can be mild to severe and in many cases lead to death. Each year
according to the Centers for Diseases Control, between 5 to 20% of the
U.S. population gets influenza, also known as the flu. There are many
ways to prevent the flu including getting a flu shot each year.
The flu is caused by two main types of influenza viruses: Type A and
Type B. These viruses are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics.
Through the course of a flu season, which occurs in the coldest months
of the season, these influenza viruses can be broken down into
sub-types and cause illness. Also, influenza viruses constantly change
through a random accumulation of mutations process called antigenic
drift. To read more about the pathology of the influenza viruses, read
Consumer Reports on Health, Medical News and Prevention magazines.
Flu germs are spread from person to person through coughing or
sneezing of people with the flu. Flu symptoms include usually high
fever, headache, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, runny or
stuffy nose and muscle aches. Digestive symptoms such as nausea,
vomiting and diarrhea can also occur but are more likely in children
than adults. For more information on flu symptoms read health
magazines like Menís Health, Womenís Health and Health magazine.
Every year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu
complications and approximately 36,000 people from the illness.
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections,
sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical
conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Certain people, such as older people, young children, and people with
certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a flu vaccine,
or flu shot. The flu shot is a vaccine that contains inactivated or
killed viruses that is administered to people through a needle. In
2008 Time magazine reported there are plenty of doses of flu shots
available for the American public.
People above age 6 months are approved by the CDC, to receive the flu
shot. There are also the options of a nasal-spray flu vaccine and
antiviral flu drugs to treat and prevent the flu. For more info, read
health magazines and medical magazines or check with your doctor or
Also, practicing good health habits is the second-best way to help
prevent the spread of germs and thus the spread of the flu and other
contagious illnesses. Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person
through coughing or sneezing of people with the flu. Sometimes people
may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and
then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to
infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days
after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the
flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you
Good health habits to prevent the spread of germs include avoiding
close contact with others, especially those who are sick and when you
are sick; stay home from work, school and public places when you are
sick; always cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing;
wash your hands often, especially after using the restroom; avoid
touching your eyes, nose and mouth. For more ways to avoid or outsmart
the flu, read tips in health magazines like Womenís Health, Menís
Health and Health magazine.
About the Author:
For more on health magazines, visit
Jessica Vandelay is a freelance writer from New York City.
Additional Information and
webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
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