How the Flu Spreads
People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. Healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children and some people with weakened immune systems may pass the virus for longer than 7 days.
Symptoms can begin in 2 days (but can range from 1 to 4 days) after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others.
It is estimated that between 70 to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. Between 54 to 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that same age group. So influenza is most serious for people aged 65 and older
A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection against Flu
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications is to get a seasonal flu vaccine each year by the end of October.
Flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. Flu vaccines are updated each season as needed to keep up with changing viruses.
Flu vaccination has also been shown to reduce flu illnesses and more serious flu outcomes that can result in hospitalization or even death in older people.
Older people with weaker immune systems often have a lower protective immune response after flu vaccination compared to younger, healthier people. This can make them more susceptible to the flu. Another important point is that people 65 years of age and older should get a flu shot and not a nasal spray vaccine as it is proven to be more effective in the protection against the flu.
Below are Emergency Warning Signs of Flu Sickness and when you should seek medical care.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
If you would like to learn more about the flu you can go to www.cdc.gov and search for flu symptoms and you will be directed to an abundance of information regarding the flu including different types of vaccines you may be able to take.