It might be hard to believe it's already flu season. But at this time last year, we already had several cases, including hospitalizations.
"We actually peaked a lot earlier last year than normal. Usually, we see a peak around February. Last year, it was around November/December. So it just goes to show you that you never know when the flu will arrive," said Karyn Johnson, Onondaga County Health Department Public Health Educator.
The flu is a respiratory illness that causes a fever, sore throat and extreme fatigue.
Johnson said, "People think it's a cold or a stomach bug. That's not the flu. That's something different. People mistake what they have for the flu. Also, the flu vaccine takes about two weeks to work. So if people get sick right around when they get vaccinated or shortly thereafter, the vaccine is not working yet."
The flu can cause pneumonia, bronchitis and even lead to hospitalizations and death. More than 200,000 people across the U.S. are admitted to hospitals every year because of the flu. That's why public health educators are reminding people that it's time to get a flu vaccine. And now, there's an egg-free vaccine for people who previously couldn't get the shot because of allergies.
"It's very limited who's allowed to get it. It's only adults. It's not available for kids yet. But there are two vaccines, one that has very low egg protein and one that has no egg protein in it all. I don't know how available it is in this area, but hopefully, we'll see it more and more as time goes on," Johnson said.
Experts say it's important for everyone who can get the vaccine to get it because it helps provide a community immunity from the flu and help protect those who can't get the vaccine.
Johnson said, "That's especially a risk if they're around children under five. That's a high-risk scenario. You want to make sure you're protecting those babies. Babies under six months of age aren't able to get the vaccine themselves, so they rely on us adults to protect them by getting our flu vaccine."
Health experts remind everyone to stop the spread of germs, by staying home when you're sick, avoiding those who are sick and washing your hand with soap and water frequently.