Influenza, commonly called “the flu”, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can infect the nose, throat, and lungs and cause mild to severe illness. Some people are more likely to get serious flu complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections. The flu can also make symptoms from asthma and chronic lung disease, such as COPD, worse. Complications from the flu can cause life threatening illness and at times can lead to death.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as the flu season vaccine becomes available in their community. Influenza seasons are unpredictable, and can begin as early as October. People should stay away from sick people and stay home if you become ill. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important for those at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or those who live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.