By Katy Siwirski

The influenza virus, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that is caused by viral infections to the nose, throat, and sometimes lungs. Compared to a cold, the flu usually comes on suddenly. It can be best prevented by receiving a flu vaccine every year. Symptoms of the flu include a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, child, fatigue, and possible diarrhea and vomiting. It is important to note that not everybody with the flu will have a fever. Experts believe the flu is spread by tiny droplets made when sick individuals cough, sneeze, or talk. You may also touch a surface or object that an infected person came in contact with, and then proceed to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. It is important to take the flu seriously, and there is one simple step to take to prevent this terrible illness.

The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more people than World War 1, so it is crucial to take this illness seriously. You may think, “Oh, I won’t catch the flu. I don’t need to get my vaccine!” Well, that is far from true. During 2017, I failed to get my flu shot. I ended up with 2 or 3 nasty respiratory and sinus infections, causing many trips to the doctor. Mother Mikalee Byerman failed to provide her children with their flu vaccines during the 2017 season, and one of her children paid the price for this by being hospitalized. “I was ‘too busy’ juggling all the stuff of single mommyhood — kids’ crazy schedules, career, marketing my book, setting up speaking engagements, planning a surprise vacation for my family, taking care of all the day-to-day stuff — all things that seem so trivial now, that I completely overlooked something that could have prevented all this pain and suffering. Luckily, there should be no long-term medical issues though, and again, I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

Mikalee also makes a crucial point that has been argued frequently. The flu vaccine does not give you the flu! “If you happen to get the flu right after getting the shot, that’s quite the unfortunate coincidence, but keep this in mind: It takes only one to four days for symptoms to appear after you contract the flu and it takes up to two weeks for the body to build antibodies. So if you get the flu within these windows, chances are you already had the flu and/or your body wasn’t fully protected.”

It is easy to prevent the flu, and it is important to take that simple step to avoid a time frame of sickness and agony. Take the time to talk to your primary doctor, and go get your flu vaccine. If you do not have a primary doctor, many pharmacies and medical facilities offer the flu shot for free. Don’t become a statistic, stay healthy, and avoid the flu!

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