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Flu Prevention

Although a flu shot can decrease your chances of getting the flu, viruses change all the time, so preventing the flu can be tricky. The vaccine is the best prevention method, but recently approved medicines (such as Tamiflu) can help with prevention if you take them for at least two weeks during an outbreak.

Flu Prevention: An Overview

Flu prevention is hard because flu viruses change all the time. This year's flu virus is usually slightly different from last year's virus. Every year, the flu shot is updated to include the most current flu virus strains, which is one reason why flu shots will only protect you for one year.


Preventing the Flu With a Flu Shot

A flu shot can greatly lower your chances of getting the flu. In fact, most illnesses and deaths that are caused by the flu could be prevented by a yearly flu shot. Medicare covers the cost, and many private health insurance plans also pay for the flu shot. You can get a flu shot at:
  • Your doctor's office
  • Your local health department
  • Other healthcare providers.
It is important to note that there are no vaccines that will give you complete protection, and the flu shot is no exception. In older people and those with certain chronic illnesses, the flu shot is often less effective in preventing the flu. However, the flu shot will help to reduce associated symptoms and the risk of serious illness and death.
Studies have shown that the flu shot reduces hospitalization by about 70 percent and reduces related deaths by about 85 percent among older people who are not in nursing homes. Among nursing home residents, the flu shot reduces the risk of hospitalization by about 50 percent, the risk of pneumonia by about 60 percent, and the risk of death by 75 percent to 80 percent.
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