It's not to late too protect yourself from flu season - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

It's not to late too protect yourself from flu season

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ATLANTA -

If you have had the flu, you know the misery that can come with it. The sudden fever, the body aches, the cough and the sore throat that just won't quit. The flu season is back, but it is not too late to protect yourself.

The good news is that the flu season has gotten off to a slow start this year. By late November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 40 percent of Americans surveyed had gotten vaccinated. And with the holidays coming, millions of us will be gathering and exchanging germs.

Now is the time to think about protecting yourself.

Last year, flu season hit early and hit hard. The CCD estimates about 380,000 Americans got sick enough from the season influenza to end up in the hospital.

This year, as Georgia sees its first cases, already reporting two deaths. Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC says it is too soon to say what to expect.

"We have to be very cautious in saying what kind of flu season we're going to have. The one thing we can do is urge as many people as possible to get vaccinated, because that's in our control," said Dr. Schuchat.

The flu vaccine is available by either a shot or a nasal spray. If you're planning to travel over the holidays, when viruses tend to make the rounds, you want to get vaccinated soon, because you need two weeks to build up immunity.

"We know that in 90% of years, influenza peaks between January and March. So this is really normal now that is flu hasn't taken off yet. But this is the perfect time to get vaccinated," said Dr. Schuchat.

And over the past few years, the CDC has begun recommending everyone six months and older get a vaccinated, not just people at higher-risk of complications.

"Influenza virus is very contagious and it is capable to cause large numbers of people to be sick. But there's a range of illness. Some people have fever and muscle aches and can't get out of bed, and other people need to go to the hospital, they develop pneumonia and they can die," said Dr. Schuchat.

Dr. Schuchat says if you get sick and develop severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, see your doctor.

"Particularly young children, and the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, developing flu like symptoms, want to be in touch with their physician because they may benefit from antiviral medicines," said Dr. Schuchat.

If you develop severe illness, you want to get to your doctor quickly because those antivirals are most effective if they are given in the first 48 hours.

And remember, you can still catch the flu even with the vaccine, but the CDC says if you do get sick, you are 60 percent less likely to need treatment.

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