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What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season

Editor’s note: Although the Ebola crisis has dominated the news recently, here at ThirdAge.com we don’t want you to lose sight of the fact the current flu season is here. The CDC offers the following information and advice about protecting yourself and your loved ones.

What sort of flu season is expected this year?
It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season usually varies from one season to another.

Will new flu viruses circulate this season?
Flu viruses are constantly changing so it’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. For more information about how flu viruses change, visit How the Flu Virus Can Change. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm) for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm) like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?
Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications( http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm), and their close contacts.

Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses. Visit Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm) for more information.