Fall is just around the corner. With it comes cooler weather, the start of school, changing the scenery, and flu season. Influenza (a.k.a. the flu) can have larger implications than you may think. 

First off, the flu spreads extremely easily. If you’re within six feet of someone with the flu, it is possible for them to spread it to you. With around 5 to 20% of the American population getting the flu each year, it can be tough to avoid. People with the flu can spread it beginning 1 day before symptoms start, all the way up to five to seven days after coming down with influenza. The peak of contagiousness is in the first three to four days, however.

The monetary cost of the disease is not something that concerns most people, but the numbers are astounding. From just hospitalization costs, a severe influenza epidemic is estimated to cost over $6 billion. This is only one piece, however. On top of the $6 billion, the flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays annually. This amounts to another $7 billion a year lost to sick days and decreased productivity.

Avoiding the flu, however, can be fairly easy. Getting a flu shot is the number one way to prevent getting the flu. It becomes effective around two weeks after receiving it, so be sure to get it as soon as it is offered. If you or your child happens to come down with influenza, be sure to stay home and recover. You will need the rest, and you will help prevent others from catching it.

The flu has resulted in 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses annually in the U.S. since 2010. It is a big deal when looking at both the impacts of catching it and how contagious it is. Be safe this flu season and be sure to keep you and your children safe and healthy.