Essentials to Know for Flu Season 2022-23
Updated: Sep 18, 2022
Flu season starts in September and the CDC recommends most people are vaccinated by the end of October. Get your flu shot to protect yourself and those around you from the possible devastating impacts of the flu (1).
It is estimated that on average 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu each season. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness that effects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. The impacts of the flu can vary from a mild illness to more severe disease and can possibly lead to death. Luckily, the flu is preventable, and the most effective way to prevent it is by getting the flu shot (2). It is also important to practice proper hand washing, cover your cough/sneeze and eat a healthy diet to keep your immune system strong.
The flu spreads mainly by small respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking. Although possible, it is not as common that a person would contract the flu by touching a surface or object that has been contaminated. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and/or fatigue. Serious complications of the flu can include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes (2).
Everyone, including healthy people, are at risk for getting the flu. Those who are at higher risk of developing serious complications if they get sick include people 65 years and older, people with certain chronic conditions (i.e. asthma, diabetes, heart disease), pregnant women, and children under 5 years.
How to prevent the flu
Get your flu shot. Everyone 6 months and older is eligible for the flu shot with rare exceptions. Additionally, there are specific vaccines approved for adults 65 years and older with added protection (3).
Afraid of needles? The live attenuated influenza vaccine (approved for people 2 years through 49 years) provides protection and is given by nasal spray. Ask your local pharmacist if you are eligible for this vaccine.
When to get the flu shot
September and October are the best times to get vaccinated for most adults, and the CDC recommends everyone is vaccinated by the end of October. It is important to get the flu shot every year because flu viruses are constantly changing, and the vaccine is modified each year to account for new variants (3).
Where to get the flu shot
Most primary care offices, pharmacies and health departments offer the flu shot. Most insurance plans cover the flu shot at no cost. Visit Vaccines.gov to find specific flu vaccines in your area.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 12). Frequently asked influenza (flu) questions: 2022-2023 season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 25). Key facts about influenza (flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 13). Who needs a flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm