National Influenza Vaccination Week

Take your shot at avoiding the flu during National Influenza Vaccination Week

If you’ve ever had the flu — and odds are you have — you know it’s a miserable experience that can put you behind at work, ruin your holidays, or worse. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year with the flu or its complications, and over 36,000 people die from this preventable disease. That’s why National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 2-8) is the perfect time to learn what you’re up against and take the one simple step to defend yourself.


Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether you’re coming down with the flu or just the common cold. Both often begin with a runny nose and sneezing, but these symptoms tend to hit a lot harder and faster with the flu, along with other symptoms including:

  • A fever of over 100.4 F
  • Muscle aches
  • Alternating chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • A dry, persistent cough
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

Treating the flu

Fortunately, most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home and let the virus run its miserable course. A few common-sense measures can help to ease your symptoms:

  • Stay in bed — Extra sleep can help your immune system fight the infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids — With a high fever, dehydration is a risk that you can minimize with water, juice and warm soups.
  • Take pain relievers — Over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol®), or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin IB®) can help knock back aches and pains; but try to avoid using aspirin with children or teens due to the risk of a rare but potentially fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome.

Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications such as Tamiflu® or Relenza® if you’re at higher risk of complications. Those at higher risk include:

  • Young children and senior citizens;
  • People with weakened immune systems or chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes or heart problems;
  • Pregnant women; and
  • People with a body mass index (BMI) or 40 or more.

Why risk it?

Up to 20% of Americans get the flu every year. You can greatly improve your odds of avoiding it with a couple of simple steps:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid crowds — Remember that one in five of those people around you could be contagious without knowing it. So during peak season (December through February), stay away from tightly-packed crowds as much as possible.
  • GET YOUR FLU SHOT! While it can’t 100% guarantee that you won’t get the flu, getting the annual flu shot is your best defense. And if you’re age 65 or older, you’re eligible for a high-dose vaccine that’s been proven to lower infection rates compared to the standard dose vaccine.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, now’s the time. Getting your shot during National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 2-8) can help ensure that you’re prepared for peak flu season.

To schedule your vaccination, call your doctor today, or get in line online at to receive your flu shot at St. Clair Urgent Care on the First Floor of St. Clair Hospital Outpatient Center–Village Square in Bethel Park.