Q. Has flu season started? I have not taken my children for their flu vaccines. Is it too late at this point?
A. Flu season is here, but it’s just beginning. As of mid-November, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting local and sporadic flu activity in most states. While flu seasons are unpredictable, influenza activity usually peaks between December and February.
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Influenza is a respiratory virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. Most will resolve with rest, fluids and fever reducers as needed. In certain instances, antiviral medications (such as Tamiflu) may be recommended.
Certain people are at higher risk for complications and should seek medical attention right away. They include those:
• Under age 5 (especially 2 and younger) or over 65.
• With asthma, diabetes, morbid obesity or other chronic health problems, including cardiac or neurologic disorders.
• Taking daily aspirin therapy for any reason.
• Pregnant or less than 2 weeks postpartum.
• Residing in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
For healthy people between age 5 and 65, medical help should be sought if there is:
• Rapid breathing or difficult breathing.
• Gray or bluish skin discoloration.
• Signs of dehydration: decreased urine output and inadequate fluid intake.
• Recurrent vomiting.
• Fever that persists beyond the third day of illness.
• Fever and cough that improved initially but returns or worsens several days into the illness (this could be a sign of developing pneumonia).
Although we are already in flu season, it is not too late to get a vaccine. Flu vaccines are still the best way to prevent influenza.
For more information about the flu, visit cdc.gov.