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Prepare now for allergy and influenza season

Staff Report • Aug 30, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Ah-choo!As most allergy sufferers know already, it’s that time of year again. While we are still four weeks away from the official start of autumn, ragweed, goldenrod and mold have already ushered in the fall allergy season. The typical symptoms of allergy are sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat, coughing or wheezing. If you also have a low-grade fever, sore throat or colored nasal secretions, you may have a respiratory or sinus infection. This is also the time of the year to make plans for getting a flu shot. Physicians say the protective qualities of the vaccine is only active for 90 days or so, which means the best time for vaccination is a month or two before the influenza season begins in earnest.While October and November are typically the months when most people get their flu shots, being vaccinated in December can still provide protection because influenza generally does not peak in most years until February.Getting a flu shot is nothing to sneeze at. Between 5 percent and 20 percent of the population is stricken with influenza annually. Of that number, about 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized because of complications from the flu.It’s especially important for Americans in certain risk groups to receive a flu shot each year. Health care providers, children between 6 months to 5 years old, people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease and people 50 and older are among those who are recommended to get a flu shot.For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

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