As the weather gets colder and local stores start to stock their shelves with Halloween candy and pumpkin-flavored everything, it’s time to start thinking about flu season. According to the Center for Disease Control, there were approximately 35,000 influenza-related hospitalizations last year during the 2017-2018 season. With no way to accurately predict the timing, severity or length of the upcoming flu season, here are five ways to start preparing to keep you as healthy as possible!
- Get vaccinated! An annual flu vaccine is the first and foremost step in protecting against influenza and its serious complications. Flu activity often begins as early as October and can continue to occur as late as May. Each year, the CDC and government agencies attempt to predict which flu viruses will cause the most problems and then they create a vaccine against them. On average, the flu vaccine protects against 60% of the flu viruses one may come into contact within a given year. Vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work due to influenza.
- Who should get vaccinated? Everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins. Vaccination of high-risk persons such as young children, those over the age of 65, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions is especially important. High-dose vaccines are available for those ages 65 and older. Check with your doctor prior to vaccination if you are pregnant, allergic to eggs or have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in the past.
- When should I get vaccinated? The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October although if this is not possible, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully respond and for you to be protected.
- Avoid close contact: Avoid contact with sick people and wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Be sure to clean and disinfect surfaces that people frequently touch.
- Preventing Flu at Work and School: If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work and school to prevent the spread. You may wish to speak with your doctor about prescription medications that can be used to treat influenza illness. These drugs work best if given within 48 hours of when symptoms start.
- Practice good health habits: Be sure to get enough rest and maintain an adequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to support your immune system.
- Spread the word (NOT the flu!): Encourage family and friends to get vaccinated as well! This is particularly important for young children, those over the age of 65 and those who are immunocompromised or pregnant
To obtain more information specific to the 2018-2019 influenza season, visit the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/
As a member of Synergy Private Health, please call to schedule your flu shot or to discuss any questions you may have about staying healthy this season!