Flu season is around the corner

Col. Tony Douglas, the 96th Test Wing installation vice-commander, receives his influenza vaccine from Tech. Sgt. Georgina Baldwin, of the 96th Medical Operations Squadron, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Oct. 2. The flu shots were administered as part of the 2012/2013 influenza campaign.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Gaddie) (Illustration/Randy Gon)

Flu season is right around the corner! For information about the flu vaccine, contact Whiteman AFB Immunizations at (660) 687-4304 or Public Health at (660) 687-2179. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Gaddie/Illustration by Randy Gon)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- If you have ever had the flu, you know it can knock you out, with family members, friends and co-workers not far behind. Today, it's more important than ever to have the correct facts about the flu and the vaccines available to prevent this dangerous respiratory disease.

Every year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for flu-related complications, and 36,000 die. Most of these are preventable with the flu vaccine. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for complications from flu, and for people who live with or care for someone who is at high risk.

So what is influenza?

Influenza is a contagious disease caused by a virus which infects the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The flu virus is spread by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Theses droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby and potentially cause illness. Flu symptoms usually come on very suddenly.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

·Fever or feeling feverish/chills
·Cough
·Sore throat
·Runny or stuffy nose
·Muscle or body aches
·Headaches
·Fatigue (tiredness)
·Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

During this flu season, venues for the influenza vaccine will be announced base wide as shipments arrive. We are expecting to start our flu venues in late September or early October.

The vaccinations have already started for Whiteman AFB emergency first responders. Our next population to vaccinate is the remaining active-duty members followed by dependents. The Whiteman AFB Immunization Clinic will be offering both the nasal mist and a flu shot to protect against the seasonal flu.

In addition to vaccinations, practicing good hand hygiene, covering your coughs and avoiding crowded areas can help protect you from getting the flu.

Stay healthy - get vaccinated now!

For more information, contact Whiteman AFB Immunizations at (660) 687-4304 or Public Health at (660) 687-2179.

You can find more flu facts at www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm.