It’s that time of year again … flu season. Did you get your flu shot? Masonic Villages has your flu season survival guide. Keep reading to learn how to stay healthy and avoid the flu this year, as well as protect those around you.

What is the Flu?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious disease that spreads across the U.S. annually, usually from October – May.

Influenza viruses cause the flu, which is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing and close contact. There are multiple flu viruses which change annually, requiring a new vaccine every year to protect against the three to four viruses projected to cause disease in the upcoming flu season. Receiving the vaccine doesn’t guarantee protection against the flu. However, it lessens the severity of symptoms should you get the flu and keeps you from spreading flu to others.

Flu symptoms usually occur suddenly and last several days. Symptoms vary by age, but usually include:

  •             Fever/chills
  •             Sore throat
  •             Muscle aches
  •             Fatigue
  •             Cough
  •             Headache
  •             Runny or stuffy nose

In its severest form, flu can also lead to pneumonia and overwhelming infection.

Flu Vaccines

Multiple flu vaccines are available. Those over age 65 can choose from two types of flu shots: a regular dose (either a tri- or quadrivalent vaccine) or a high-dose vaccine formulated specifically for seniors. As in years past, Masonic Village’s pharmacy ordered the high-dose vaccine for our “flu clinics” this year. The high-dose vaccine contains a higher dose of antigen than the regular vaccine to provide a more robust immune response for those age 65+.

Both vaccines are preservative and latex-free. They also contain no live flu virus. This means the vaccines cannot cause the flu. Medicare B and most Medicare Advantage plans cover the flu vaccine, or you can get it for free or low cost at local pharmacies.

What To Do If You Have the Flu

To stop the spread of flu, STAY HOME – except to receive medical care – if you’re feeling sick. On top of that, avoid crowds or other social gatherings, WASH YOUR HANDS often and get a flu shot!

You can treat the flu with antivirals: Tamiflu® (generic oseltamivir), Relenza® (generic zanamivir) or Rapivab® (generic peramivir). Treatment also includes adequate fluids, rest and acetaminophen (Tylenol®) for fever.

If you haven’t already, get your flu shot as one component of maintaining your health.

[Source: Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)].  For additional information, go to

About the Author

Donna Hershey is the director of personal care and outpatient services at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown.