National Influenza Vaccination Week Is Next Week

by Nicole Viau, Health Promotion & Communication Specialist, City of Nashua Division of Public Health & Community Services

NHPHA is observing National Influenza Vaccination Week from December 6 to 12, 2020. The goal of this annual observation is to remind our community that it is not too late to get the flu vaccine!

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold and usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of the following symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

An annual flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your chances of getting the seasonal flu and spreading it to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 6 months  and older receive an annual flu vaccine. Because the flu virus changes, new vaccines need to be made and administered every year. This is why you need to get a new flu vaccine every year.

There are many reasons why getting a flu vaccine can benefit you, your family, and your community. Flu vaccination can reduce risk of flu illness, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school. Even if you are vaccinated and still get sick, a flu vaccine can reduce the severity of your illness. Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy and protects the baby born to a vaccinated mom for several months after birth. An annual flu vaccine has also been shown to save children’s lives; prevent serious events associated with chronic lung disease, diabetes, and heart disease; and prevent flu-related hospitalization among working-age adults and older adults. Getting vaccinated isn’t just about keeping you healthy; it’s also about helping to protect others around you who may be vulnerable to becoming very sick, such as babies, older adults, and pregnant women.

Getting the flu vaccine this year is more important than ever. Although flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. Because some symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference based upon symptoms alone. The only way to confirm diagnosis is through testing. As flu and COVID-19 spread simultaneously this winter, this week will serve to remind people that there is still time to get a flu vaccine to protect against flu illness and serious flu complications.

If you are interested in getting your flu vaccine, call your health care provider, pharmacy, or local health department. You can also use the online, interactive HealthMap Vaccine Finder to help you locate a flu vaccine location near you. When going to get your flu vaccine, continue to practice every day preventative actions to keep you, your family, and your community safe. This includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing (6-feet distance from others), and washing your hands often.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

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