Norman Regional Health System

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It’s officially fall, which means it is time to get your influenza (flu) vaccination.

Not convinced that a flu vaccine is right for you or your family? Let us help you make an informed decision by checking out these frequently asked questions.

Q: What are the best ways to protect against the flu?

A: Getting a flu vaccination every year is the best way to protect against the flu. To avoid the spread of germs throughout the year, you should also practice good hand hygiene by washing or using hand sanitizer often, and coughing and sneezing into your elbow.


Q: Is the flu a serious illness?

A: Yes. Flu is a serious illness that kills about 36,000 people and hospitalizes more than 200,000 people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in our country.


Q: When is the best time to get a flu vaccination?

A: It is best to get a flu vaccination in the fall once the vaccine becomes available. If you are unable to get vaccinated right away, it is not too late to get a vaccination in December or beyond since flu season can run as late as May, often peaking around February.


Q: Will a flu vaccine give me the flu?

A: No. A flu vaccine contains viruses that are weakened (nasal spray vaccine) or killed (flu shot) and cannot cause an infection. The flu vaccine works by priming your body's defenses in case you are exposed to an actual flu virus.


Q: Do we need to get a new flu vaccination each year?

A: Yes. Since flu viruses change often, new flu vaccines are produced each year to address the three most common strains of the flu.


Q: Can you only pass the flu to others if you are sick?

A: No. Adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick, according to the CDC. Children may pass the virus even longer.


Q: Is the stomach flu the same as influenza?

A: No. Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness and does not involve stomach-related symptoms, like vomiting, nausea or diarrhea. The main symptoms of the flu are headache, fever, achy muscles, sore throat, extreme tired feelings and/or a dry cough.


In addition to a flu vaccination and proper hand hygiene, it’s also important to exercise; keep your stress level down; make healthy food choices; get plenty of sleep; and limit your exposure to people who are sick during cold and flu season.

Although getting your flu vaccination and practicing these healthy tips will help keep illnesses at bay, we know that your family may still get sick in the coming months. If you need medical advice, Norman Regional has you covered. Learn more about Norman Regional Virtual Care or log on to visit with a provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the comfort of your home or office. It’s quick, convenient and only costs $45 for each visit.