Influenza or “the flu” can cause mild to severe illness and can even lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. 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 can pass on the flu virus to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
The best way to prevent this contagious illness is to get a flu vaccination each fall. There are two types of vaccines. The “flu shot” is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. The nasalspray flu vaccine is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. It is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but getting vaccinated in December or even later can still be beneficial. Check with your local pharmacy to see which vaccine may be best for you and your family.