On average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population has to fight the flu every year. 200,000 people get hospitalized and 36,000 people die from the virus. Many Americans get the flu, but don?t know the true facts about this common bug.
Despite what your mother told you about bundling up so you don?t catch a cold, the flu isn't caught this way.
"It's caused by a virus that passes on through the air or through people shaking hands or whatever and that's how influenza and the common cold are passed on," said James Ryder, director of the Eau Claire City County Health Department.
People can catch the bug from someone who is already infected, but beware. Most healthy adults can pass the virus on to others one day before symptoms appear and up to five days after becoming sick.
The flu spreads from person to person, but it can also be spread from touching objects, like a desk or doorknob, and then touching your eyes or mouth. So, the best way to prevent yourself from getting the virus is washing your hands frequently.
However, there are people who have a higher risk of developing further complications from the flu who should get a flu shot.
"Babies six months to 23 months should get a shot because they are more prone to have this turn into pneumonia and be hospitalized and the other extreme is people that are 65 and older," said James Ryder.
The flu shot supply has been low in previous years, but there is plenty this year for people who need it or want it. The best time to get the vaccination is now, which is the beginning of the flu season. However, getting the shot in December will still be beneficial.
The Luther Midelfort Clinic on 733 W. Clairemont Avenue is holding a flu shot clinic all this week. For Wednesday November 16 and Thursday November 17, the clinic times are from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. On Friday November 18, the clinic is open from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. There is no appointment necessary and there is a small fee. For the Midelfort clinic in Chippewa Falls, call 720-4400 for an appointment.