Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.
Back-to-school is nearly synonymous with flu season, which means sunburned noses are about to give way to runny noses rubbed raw from one too many tissues.
Fortunately, the 2013-14 flu shot is already available, and this year it's better than ever, covering four strains of the virus instead of the usual three.
“You can see cases as early as October,” ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said recently on Good Morning America. “So I like to get the vaccine as soon as it's available. I got mine last Friday.”
Here's what you need to know about the flu shot to get ready for flu season this year.
The flu vaccine doesn't have to be a shot.
Nowadays, you can get the flu shot without the traditional needle pricking your muscle.
The flu vaccine is available in a nasal spray for people ages 2 years old to 50 years old.
For those who …
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines (called trivalent vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In addition, this season, there are flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine as well as an additional B virus.
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