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It's getting to be that time of year when mothers say "Put your coat on or you'll get the flu!"

The "flu" is actually a highly contagious infection of influenza type A or B which affects the whole body, generally during December through April. It is spread by coughing or sneezing followed by hand and face contact.  Frequent hand washing is important for prevention. Moms should say "Wash your hands or you'll get the flu!" 

The flu causes a serious respiratory illness, that will infect up to 90 million Americans this year and hospitalize nearly 300,000; up to 40,000 Americans will die from the flu this year alone.  While most flu hospitalizations affect the elderly, a new study suggests that certain young and middle-aged women can develop life-threatening flu complications and should be added to the list of those who should be vaccinated.

Annual vaccines are the best way to prevent influenza. Yet most people at risk neglect getting vaccinated each year.  Influenza vaccine is strongly recommended for:

  • Children under 2.
  • Adults over 65.
  • Anyone with a chronic illness
  • Smokers
  • Some pregnant women and
  • Caretakers of any of the above

If you are at risk, get your vaccine sooner rather than later.

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Created: 10/19/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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