Sixteen Mesa County residents have been hospitalized so far this season with influenza, a nasty respiratory illness characterized by fever, aches, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose and congestion.

To keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, get a flu shot. It does not cause the flu. In fact, getting a flu shot every year is the best way to prevent influenza.

Some people sometimes do feel lousy after getting a flu shot. Blame that on soreness at the injection site and a sore arm caused by antibodies doing their thing. Rarely, people develop a fever, muscle pain and weakness after getting the flu shot, but those symptoms dissipate after a day or two and are nothing compared to actual influenza illness.

Other people actually experience flu-like symptoms during flu season, even though they got a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several reasons for that:

  • People can be exposed to influenza shortly before getting vaccinated or within the two weeks after getting vaccinated (while the antibodies are doing their thing).
  • People can catch non-flu viruses that have flu-like symptoms. 
  • People can be exposed to an influenza virus not included in the seasonal vaccine. 
  • Unfortunately, sometimes people get influenza anyway. Vaccine protection varies widely and is based in part on the health and age of the person getting vaccinated. 

Though this year’s vaccine isn’t a perfect match for one of the circulating strains, everyone 6 months and older should get it anyway. The flu vaccine still offers some protection and can lessen symptoms for those who do come down with influenza.

Other tips to stay healthy:

  • Stay home from work or school if you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands. You can’t wash your hands too much.
  • Sanitize surfaces. Do this often.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Keep your fingers away from your eyes and your nose and out of your mouth. 

For more information on influenza, go here.