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    Infectious Diseases A-Z: Fight the flu with an influenza shot

a person getting vaccinated by a healthcare person giving a flu shot
Have you had your flu shot? Consider this. Dec. 3 - 9 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, a reminder that everyone 6 months and older should be encouraged to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports higher than usual flu activity around the U.S. than is usually seen this time of year.

"Influenza can be a serious and potentially deadly virus that causes fever, coughing and muscle aches," says Dr. Vandana Bhide, a Mayo Clinic internist.

Watch: Dr. Vandana Bhide discusses influenza

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites are in the downloads.

"People always ask me, 'Why do I have to get a flu shot every single year,' as with other vaccines, you can just get a booster shot every once in awhile," says Dr. Bhide. "With influenza, because it can change year -to- year and the immunization is very specific to the strain, you have to get the vaccine every single year."

The 2017 - 2018 vaccine offers protection against the H1N1 flu virus, in addition to two other flu viruses. A vaccine that protects against four strains of the virus is also available, as well as a high-dose flu vaccine for adults 65 and older.

Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of flu complications, including:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • Young children

Those complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections.

Common signs and symptoms of flu include:

  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Aching muscles, especially in your back, arms and legs
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat