Also known as influenza, the flu is an incredibly common and potentially deadly viral infection that affects the lungs, nose, and throat. It can be particularly dangerous for young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. The symptoms of the flu usually include a fever, chills, muscle aches, a cough, congestion, a runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. Generally speaking, treatment for the flu includes plenty of rest and fluids while allowing the body to fight off the infection on its own. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers can help reduce some of the symptoms, however an annual vaccine is often recommended to prevent the flu and limit its complications.
Each fall, a new flu vaccine is released to help protect people of all ages from getting the flu. The flu shot is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and up, but it is particularly important for certain groups of people such as pregnant women, young children, and elderly individuals. It is also important for anyone who wants to avoid the misery of the flu. The vaccine is safe and has been given to hundreds of millions of people without any major side effects. The effectiveness of the vaccine depends on factors such as age, overall health and lifestyle.