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Flu shot, or no flu shot? Get the facts

Five important flu facts

You can think of lots of reasons not to get a flu shot. You never get sick. You don't have time. You read it doesn't work. You really hate needles. Fact is, the flu vaccine works, and if more people take the time to get one, it can keep you from getting the dreaded virus and spreading it. Know the facts.

1. Flu isn't fun

But we don't need to tell you that. Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs. You're probably all too familiar with the symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and occasionally nausea and diarrhea. It typically takes several days to two weeks to recover.

2. It spreads easily

Flu can spread when you cough, sneeze or speak. You can also catch it by touching a handrail, doorknob or some other surface that's been contaminated, and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

3. You may not know you have it

It's important to note that you usually don't start feeling symptoms until two days after exposure. That means you can be contagious before you even know you're sick, which is why you may unknowingly spread it to others. On average, a person is contagious one day before and up to 7 days after getting sick.

4. In rare cases, it can be deadly

While anyone can experience serious complications from the flu, the most vulnerable are people over 65, young children, pregnant women or those suffering from chronic illness like asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

5. Vaccination is not 100% effective, but it helps

Research has shown that the vaccine can lower your chances of getting the flu by 50 to 75 percent, depending on your age and other factors. The nasal vaccine was found to be less effective and is not being offered in 2016-17.

Remember, it's not too late to get vaccinated. Flu season peaks between December and March, and runs right through May. Antibodies that protect against the influenza virus develop in the body about two week after you are vaccinated. So don't wait until next flu season – there's still time to make sure you and your family are protected.

Source: Centers for Disease Control.

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