Flu protection at every age

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Grandfather holding up his toddler grandson, both looking at each other and smiling.Influenza, more commonly called the flu, is often perceived as a harmless illness. Most people who get sick with flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death. All age groups can be affected but there are groups that are more at risk than others: pregnant women, children under 59 months, the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions (such as chronic cardiac, pulmonary, renal, metabolic, neurodevelopmental, liver or hematologic diseases) and individuals with immunosuppressive conditions (such as HIV/AIDS, receiving chemotherapy or steroids, or malignancy).

The most effective way to prevent the disease is vaccination. Safe and effective vaccines are available and have been used for more than 60 years. Annual vaccination is recommended to protect against influenza. 2 Influenza vaccination can prevent about half of the disease, severe illness and death from influenza in an average year.

In Israel each year 20% -30% of children and 5% -10% of adults in the general population suffer from the disease.

The vaccine is recommended for all citizens of Israel aged 6 months or older. It is recommended to vaccinate against the flu since the beginning of October and is highly recommended not later than the end of November, but it is recommended to vaccinate even after that date. 

It is recommended to get vaccinated every year as the disease changes and every year a new virus appears, slightly different from the previous year.
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu:

  1. Avoid close contact with others who are sick.
  2. Stay home if you are sick to prevent spreading your illness to others.
  3. Cover your nose and/or mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  4. Wash your hands frequently.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 

REFERENCES:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal influenza: Who is at high risk for Flu complications. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm
  2. World Health Organization. Fact sheet on seasonal influenza. https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal).
  3. Ministry of Health Israel: Importance and effectiveness of vaccines against influenza. https://www.health.gov.il/NewsAndEvents/SpokemanMesseges/Pages/27112017_1.aspx
  4. Ministry of Health Israel. Pregnancy: Vaccination of infants and children. https://www.health.gov.il/Subjects/pregnancy/Childbirth/Vaccination_of_infants/Pages/flu.aspx.
  5. Ministry of Health Israel. Prevent Flu: Prevention of seasonal flu and other winter diseases. https://www.health.gov.il/Subjects/vaccines/flu/Pages/Winter_flu.aspx
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm