Protect yourself and others from the flu
Iinfluenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control
, influenza causes millions of illness, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths each year.
The good news is that you can take steps to prevent the flu and avoid missed work and school, doctor’s visits and hospitalizations.
What’s the best way to avoid the flu?
The single best way to avoid the flu — and avoid spreading it to vulnerable children and others — is to get the flu vaccine. By getting a flu shot, you are not only protecting yourself, but also your family and friends and others you may come in contact with in your daily life.
In addition, you can take other simple precautions. For example, you can stay away from sick people and wash your hands. If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the flu to others.
Who should get the flu shot?
Everyone over 6 months old, with rare exceptions, should get the flu shot. Those with severe allergies to eggs or other ingredients to the vaccine should talk with their medical provider.
What type of flu season is expected this year?
According to the CDC, it is impossible to predict what this flu season will be like. The flu season is unpredictable because though it comes regularly every year, the timing, severity and length of season can vary.
Will new flu viruses circulate this year?
It is not unusual for new viruses to appear each year. Flu shots are created with three to four strains to improve the chance for prevention.
Will the United States have a flu epidemic this year?
The CDC says flu season is an epidemic that happens each year. This time of year is called “flu season” and in the United States happens in the winter. The season can begin as early as October and end as late as May. In the Northwest, the flu season generally comes in late November and peaks in February, according to Legacy Health public health experts.
When should I get my flu shot?
The CDC recommends you get your shot as early as possible. Children who are from 6 months to 8 years old who need two doses should get the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to give the second dose before the start of the flu season, according to the CDC. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart.
Will the shot give me the flu?
You can't get the flu from the shot; the virus in the vaccine is dead. However, if you don’t feel well after receiving a shot, you should talk to your doctor about alternative vaccines that may work better for you.
Can the vaccine provide protection even if it isn’t a good ‘match’?
Yes, according to the CDC, the antibodies made in response to the vaccine can sometimes provide protection against different, but related strains. Also, because the vaccine has three to four viruses, even if one is less effective than planned, the others may be a better match.
Where can I get more information?
Talk to your primary care provider about flu shots, and consult the websites below for further information.
For details, watch the videos on this page or read this list of FAQs from one of our doctors. Also see the websites below. If you have specific questions, talk to your doctor.
Flu resources online
Legacy has expertise in flu-related issues:
- For addressing infectious disease, we have several specialists on our medical staff. For doctors who treat children go here. For adults: Mark Crislip, M.D., Eric Chang, M.D., and Regina Won, M.D.
- For cases of breathing failure associated with the flu, Legacy is a leader in a complex treatment known as ECMO. Legacy has used ECMO to to treat severe lung failure from the H1N1 virus (swine flu.) ECMO oxygenates the blood outside of the body, supporting the heart and lungs so that they can heal. Read more about our ECMO care.
What about whooping cough?
Whooping cough (pertussis) is highly contagious and can be fatal to infants, who often catch it from adult family members. Whooping cough is now at its highest level in the U.S. since 1959.