Many people have a long-term health condition (also called a chronic disease) like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. However, many people do not know that these health conditions can cause them to get very sick from flu. Most people hospitalized for flu have a long-term health condition.
Having a long-term health condition means your immune system is already working hard. When it has to fight off another disease like flu, it can be very difficult or make your other health condition get worse. This can happen even if you are taking all of the right medications and your long-term health condition is under control.
Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu. Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine every year, but it is especially important for people with long-term health conditions. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of getting sick with flu as well as reduce the risk of having a serious flu outcome like going to the hospital or being admitted to the intensive care unit.
Flu is an illness caused by virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu can be spread in the air when people with the virus cough or sneeze, or by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching their mouth or eyes.
Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, being very tired, and body aches. These symptoms usually begin suddenly and might be severe enough to stop your daily activities. Since people with long-term health conditions are more likely to get very sick from flu, this could mean having to miss many days of work, school or other activities.
Flu season can last through the month of April. It is not too late to get vaccinated and help protect yourself and the people around you from flu. Flu vaccine is available at many locations. This can include your health care provider’s office, county health departments, pharmacies, and community vaccination clinics. There are clinics around the state of Minnesota that offer free or low-cost vaccine for people who do not have health insurance. Find a clinic near you on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website at www.mdhflu.com.