Roll Up Your Sleeve – It’s Time to Get Your Flu Vaccine

Flu viruses can circulate throughout the year but typically increase in October and usually peak between December and February. At Lee Health, between Oct. 1 and the first week of November, we’d already seen a 118% increase in positive flu tests.

Because of this significant increase in flu cases in our community, we want to remind and encourage you to get your flu vaccine if you haven’t already.

“The flu vaccine is the best and most important step you can take to prevent flu,” says Larry Antonucci,  M.D., MBA, President & CEO of Lee Health. “While it still is possible to get sick even after vaccination, getting the flu vaccine reduces the severity of the illness. Because of this protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months of age and older receive the vaccine.”

Dr. Antonucci adds that vaccination is particularly important for those who are at high risk of developing flu-related complications, including:

  • Adults age 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years of age
  • People who have medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, chronic lung diseases and weakened immune systems, among others

“The flu is very contagious and can be transmitted to others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after the illness begins,” Dr. Antonucci says. “Remember, too, it takes about two weeks after vacci

nation for the antibodies to develop in the body. If you haven’t gotten the flu vaccine yet, there’s still time. We recommend keeping in mind the time it takes to develop protection, especially with the holidays approaching.”

Every flu season is different, and the virus can affect people differently, too. Millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

“Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can result in more serious illness,” Dr. Antonucci says. “An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu.”

  • Symptoms & Prevention

    Do you think you have a common cold or the flu? Here’s a rundown of common symptoms:

    Symptoms of a cold include:

    • Runny nose
    • Nasal congestion
    • Sneezing
    • Sore throat
    • Cough
    • Headache


    The flu can have similar symptoms to a cold, but may also include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    You should visit the emergency department when you or a loved one is experiencing:

    • Severe or life-threatening issues
    • Trouble breathing
    • Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke
    • Broken bones – if bone is visible
    • Minor emergencies – if you do not have access to a doctor or walk-in clinic


    Follow these good health habits to help keep the flu away:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    • Keep your hands clean. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

    Don’t have a primary care physician? We can help you find one or a specialist whose education, training, and medical interests match your health needs.

    Call 239-481-4111 or visit our Primary Care page for more information.

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