With 25 states reporting widespread seasonal flu activity last week, how safe are you and your family from getting the flu this year?

CDC-Map

According to CDC: 25 states reporting widespread flu – CNN.com, “widespread” means that more than 50% off geographic regions in a state – counties for example – are reporting flu activity. So far this year five people have died from the flu, two of which were pediatric deaths reported to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) – one was associated with the H1N1 strain (known as the swine flu after an outbreak in 2009) the other with an influenza A strain.  In 2013, 381,000 children were hospitalized and 171 died due to the flu and was considered to be a relatively severe flu season.

The CDC does not record the number of adult flu-related deaths as it’s hard to track but some states do and those deaths have been reported.  So as an estimate from 1976-2007 about 49,000 people died due to flu-related causes.  The CDC does report however that the flu vaccination prevented 6.6 million illnesses last year, 3.2 million doctor visits and at least 79,000 hospitalizations.

How safe you and your family are from the flu this year depends on the following:

  • The flu vaccine – to get or not to get?  Flu shots are currently recommended for anyone over 6 months of age and particularly those that would suffer high risk complications such as children younger than 5 with diabetes or asthma and the elderly. 
  • Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs such as: avoiding close contact with sick people, when sick limit contact with others, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Take flu antiviral drugs, if you get the flu and your doctor prescribes them

A few common questions and answers regarding the flu vaccine from CBC News are:

  1. Does the flu shot hurt? It feels just like another other type of vaccine – a slight prick of a needle.
  2. Does the flu shot make me sick?  No.
  3. What are symptoms of H1N1?  The sudden onset of a fever and headache, then body aches, and fatigue.
  4. What if my child is afraid of needles? Nasal spray vaccine is available as an alternative.

By following the simple suggestions above you can ensure your family is safe from the flu in 2014.