By Trisha Sherven
NEW YORK (MoneyTalksNews) —If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how awful it is — high fever, muscle aches, chills, vomiting. You feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.
According to a 2007 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu costs employers $10.5 billion every flu season in expenses related to medical care, missed work and reduced productivity.
Once you’ve got the it, antibiotics won’t help — they’re for bacterial infections, not viruses such as the flu. So the best medicine is prevention, including such common-sense things as washing your hands, avoiding contact with people to whatever extent possible and, especially, getting vaccinated.
The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older get an annual flu shot, as well as those in high-risk groups such as children younger than 5, especially those less than 2, adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, native Americans, Alaskan natives and anyone with a disease compromising the immune system.
One of the best ways to prevent the flu is to get the influenza vaccine — a flu shot — every year. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most private insurance is required to cover preventive care, which includes vaccinations, at no cost: no co-pay, no deductible. The same is true for those covered by Medicare Part B.
How effective is it?
According to the CDC, this year’s flu vaccine is about 60% effective in preventing influenza infection. Part of the reason flu shots can’t be 100% effective is that they’re developed months before flu season, so they can’t cover all strains and variations the virus may develop. But researchers say even if a vaccinated person does contract a flu virus, the symptoms and potential complications will often be much less severe.