It’s flu season, and while seasonal influenza viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter.
The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.
The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations;
- Flu vaccination also has been shown to significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza; and
- Also, there is data to suggest that even if someone gets sick after a flu vaccination, their illness may be milder.
If public transportation is part of your travel plans, remember, everything that you touch from luggage to seats, is likely touched by someone else.
The Red Cross recommends you follow these tips to help avoid the spread of germs:
- Handle your own belongings;
- Wash your hands often with soap and water;
- Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you; use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces, such as armrests;
- Bring your own pillows and blankets. They can act as a shield against the seat itself; and
- Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.
In addition to flu viruses, several other respiratory viruses also circulate during the flu season and can cause symptoms and illness similar to those seen with flu infection.
These respiratory viruses include rhinovirus (one cause of the “common cold”) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is the most common cause of severe respiratory illness in young children, as well as a leading cause of death from respiratory illness in those aged 65 years and older.