By Jolene Wall

Getting a flu shot is not fun or enjoyable. However, a few seconds of pain can spare you from something really not fun getting the flu. We’ve enjoyed some warm weather and are having a great time getting outdoors here in southwest Minnesota. Soon, the temperatures will drop and we’ll all be spending more time inside, close and comfy with those we love. That’s just how the flu virus likes to spread, person to person.

More than 3,000 people were admitted to the hospital with the flu in Minnesota last year. Plus, there were more than 400 outbreaks in Minnesota schools. Last year, the flu season started quickly reaching its peak in December. Now is the time to try and prevent the spread.

March of Dimes would like to remind you that getting the flu shot is important for your health and the health of everyone around you. Getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy is safe for both the mother and her unborn baby and can protect both of them from the influenza virus infection and its possible health consequences.

Health complications resulting from influenza infection, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly, according to the March of Dimes, which recommends that pregnant women, and women who expect to become pregnant, get an annual flu shot.

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months or older, including pregnant women, be vaccinated against the influenza virus.

Early fall is not too early for pregnant women, and women who expect to become pregnant, to get their flu shot. Babies born to mothers who got their flu shot while pregnant were protected from serious illness with influenza during their first six months of life.

In addition to getting their annual flu shot, we can all lower the risk of catching influenza by limiting contact with others who are sick, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or an arm, not touching the eyes, nose and mouth, washing hands with soap and water before touching others, using sanitizers, using hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash the dishes and utensils, not sharing the dishes, glasses, utensils or toothbrush. Also, those who live with pregnant women, or are in close contact with them, should be immunized.

We all want to enjoy fall and winter activities in Minnesota, not stuck at home with sniffles, aches and pains.