Fight the Flu
It’s not too late to get this season’s shot
By Elaine Marotta
If you have not yet received the influenza vaccine, getting your shot now will be your best protection against the flu and its potentially serious complications. Vaccination is especially important this year, since flu season and a spike in Covid-19 cases are occurring simultaneously.
Preventing the flu or reducing illness from the flu may lessen the number of flu sufferers requiring hospitalization at a time when the healthcare system is already becoming overwhelmed due to Covid-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during the 2019-2020 influenza season, influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths.
The CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccine for people six months and older, especially those who may be at risk for complications — such as young children, older adults, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions. Your healthcare provider can address any questions or concerns you may have regarding vaccination.
A Long Season
The flu season begins in early fall and continues through May. Even if you don’t get the flu shot early in the season, you can still benefit from receiving it in February or later.
You can get a flu shot at your provider’s office or at one of the local or chain pharmacies. It takes up to two weeks to build up immunity after receiving a flu shot.
Some people may experience side effects from the vaccine that include muscle aches and a slight fever. Note that according to medical experts, you cannot catch the flu from receiving the flu vaccine, contrary to the opinion of many who may be hesitant about vaccination.
About the Flu
Influenza is a respiratory infection that can come on suddenly and can cause mild to severe illness, or even death.
Symptoms last from a few days to a couple of weeks. Someone with the flu may experience fever, chills, a persistent cough, a sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, eye pain, fatigue and chest discomfort — along with the sneezing and stuffy nose you might suffer with just a cold.
If you get the flu, stay home to help prevent spreading it to others, and take good care of yourself. Rest, hydrate and take any medicine your provider prescribes.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain, constant dizziness, seizures, worsening of any medical conditions you may already have, or severe weakness or muscle pain.
Ways to Stay Healthy
In addition to getting a flu shot, adopting these lifestyle habits will help you and your family work toward better health.
- Wear a mask, and follow the Covid-19 recommendations of health experts at the CDC.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (use hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to soap and water).
- Avoid touching your face.
- Follow a healthful diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and energy-boosting proteins.
- Drink water throughout the day.
- If you have been sitting for long periods, increase your level of physical activity. Work toward exercising regularly.
- Don’t compromise when it comes to getting essential sleep.
- Learn to manage stress, especially in the Age of Covid-19.
- Don’t smoke.
- Stay away from those who are sick.
- Cover your sneezes and coughs to avoid spreading germs.
- Stay home when you are ill.
- Keep your house clean and sanitized, including wiping and disinfecting germ-harboring sinks, faucet handles, counter tops, toilet flushes, light switches, doorknobs, toys, remotes, phones, keyboards and your computer mouse.