LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to being sent to the hospital and sometimes even death.
The best way to protect yourself and others is to get a flu shot.
On this Medical Monday, Nurse Cari Glover from Arkansas Children's Hospital is urging everyone to get a flu shot early so you'll be protected for the full flu season.
Getting a flu shot is essential for children, who are the most vulnerable population for not only getting the flu, but also for becoming critically ill and even dying from influenza.
How important is a flu shot? During the 2010-2011 flu season, Glover says that ACH had to admit 61 kids who were sick enough with confirmed flu to stay in the hospital. Of those, 17 had lengthy stays in Intensive Care. Sadly, one child died.
There are many myths about the flu shot says Glover, but most can be easily dispelled. It might make your arm a little sore, but it won't make you sick. If you become ill after getting the shot, it's because you'd probably already caught something before you received the vaccine.
Common side effects include a little redness or swelling at the site of the injection and in a few cases, a low-grade fever that resolves quickly.
So who should be vaccinated against the flu? The CDC recommends that a flu vaccine be a priority for children under 5 and especially those under 2 years old; pregnant women; people over 50; people with any kind of chronic medical condition; those living in nursing homes; and health care workers.
People allergic to eggs, those who have had a severe reaction in the past, children younger than 6 months, those who are currently ill and people with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome are the only ones who should NOT get a flu shot.
It is available in the shot or nasal mist form this year.
Families can also check with their pediatrician's office for the vaccines. You might also ask your school because in the past, many districts have made it available during mass vaccination opportunities.
If you don't get the shot, you'll be susceptible to the flu, with symptoms including terrible aches, high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue.
(Source: Arkansas Children's Hospital)