Flu Vaccine Program
DeKalb County Board of Health’s 2009 – 2010 Flu Vaccine Program
What Is the Flu?
Influenza-often called the flu-is a contagious, potentially serious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that attack the upper respiratory tract. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Flu viruses are easily spread from person to person in respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.
It’s also possible (though uncommon) to become infected by touching an object that has viruses on it, like a telephone or doorknob, and then touching your nose or mouth.
Effects of Flu
The flu can make people of all ages seriously ill. Symptoms include high fever, extreme tiredness, headache, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and more. (Children may also experience nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.) Flu may lead to bronchitis and pneumonia, or asthma, diabetes, lung and heart problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.
Flu causes about 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year in the U.S. Depending upon which flu virus strains are circulating, the disease sickens from five percent to 20 percent of the people in the U.S. annually during the fall and winter flu “season.” The viruses may be active from October to May.
Help Avoid the Flu
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the best way to prevent flu and protect yourself and others from serious complications is to get an annual flu vaccination.
Flu vaccine is offered at all five of the DeKalb County Board of Health’s centers. Call (404) 294-3700 to find the center nearest to you. You can also call the DeKalb County Board of Health’s flu information line at (404) 508-7880.
Anyone can get the flu. The virus is contagious and may spread from person to person before symptoms appear and up to five days afterwards. Children may be infectious for 10 days or more. Smoking increases your risk of flu infection and the illness can be more severe because of it.
Because flu thrives in close quarters, such as schools, children are more likely to become infected than adults. Yet older people and very young children are more likely to be hospitalized or die from flu-related causes. People who work in close physical spaces with others who are infectious, such as in office cubicles, or travel on crowded public transportation, may be exposed to influenza viruses easily. So are those who sleep and live in tight quarters with individuals who may be infected, such as in shelters, nursing homes or college dormitories.
The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend flu vaccination for the following groups:
- People 50 years and older
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house those with long-term illnesses
- Adults and children six months* and older with chronic heart or lung conditions including asthma
- Adults and children six months* and older who needed regular medical care or were in a hospital during the previous year because of a metabolic disease (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with HIV/AIDS)
- Children six months* to 18 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy. (Children given aspirin while they have influenza are at risk of Reye’s syndrome.)
- Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- All children six* to 59 months of age
- People with any condition that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions (that is, a condition that makes it hard to breathe or swallow, such as brain injury or disease, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders or other nerve muscle disorders.)
It is also recommended that the following groups get vaccinated against influenza:
- Any person in close contact with someone in a high-risk group including
- Health care workers
- Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children six to 59 months
- Close contacts of people 65 years and older