Disclosure: This post is part of the blogger program by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Motherhood, who compensated me for my time. Opinions shared here are 100% my own.
The flu has hit hard this year. Where I live was especially hard hit. My family got our flu vaccinations (my son got the flu mist) before Christmas, and (*knocks* wood) we have be fortunate to not have gotten the flu (at least yet) this season. We’ve never had the flu before, though.
It’s not too late to get your flu vaccination — it still may offer some benefits, since flu season peaks between December and February and can even last into May. It is especially important if you are at risk for serious illness from flu — children younger than 2, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with diabetes, lung disease or other chronic diseases. And make sure to check right away if you exhibit flu-like symptoms.
There are 3 actions you can take to protect yourself and others from the flu:
Get the flu vaccination
The single best way to keep from getting the flu is to get a flu vaccine (or flu mist). Don’t forget or put off the flu vaccine each year. Flu is serious… not just because it’s painful and something you never want to have to go through, but flu can lead to hospitalization or even worse, death.
The flu vaccine protects against three or four different influenza viruses, depending on which vaccine you get (trivalent or quadrivalent). Even when some circulating viruses are different from the vaccine viruses, CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination as it may still offer some protection. While this year’s vaccine may not work as well against the drifted H3N2 viruses, it can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications.
Even getting partial protection is better than no protection in my book.
Take preventive actions every day to stop the spread of germs
Most of the ways to stop the spread of germs are common sense. But as a reminder, here are 6 things you can easily do that will protect youself and your loved ones from the flu:
- Avoid Close Contact – If you are sick avoid touching others, shaking hands, hugging, etc. And if you know someone is sick keep your distance.
- Stay Home If Your Sick – Don’t go to work if you’re sick so you don’t spread it to your coworkers and please do not send your children to school if they are sick. Personally, I don’t want my son to get sick or the flu because someone sent their child to school.
- Cover Your Mouth and Nose – Keep tissues handy and cough and sneeze into a tissue.
- Wash Your Hands – And wash them often. It doesn’t have to be hot water, either… the important thing is soap and washing them long enough (sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice). If soap and water isn’t handy, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Mouth, and Nose – This one is especially important with children, but you’d probably be surprised how many times a day you touch your face. Just be aware of it.
- Practice Other Good Health Habits – Exercise, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, keep stress at bay, eat healthy foods, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and/or school.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
Are you aware of antiviral drugs to treat flu? I wasn’t until recently. So if you unfortunately do get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications.
Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness. Treatment with flu antiviral drugs can make flu illness milder and shorter. Treatment with antivirals also can lessen serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or death.
Antiviral drugs are even more important when circulating flu viruses are different from the vaccine viruses, which can mean that the vaccine doesn’t work as well in protecting against infection with those viruses.
Be sure to see your doctor if you show flu symptoms and start taking antiviral drugs immediately. Surprisingly, antiviral drugs are under-prescribed for high risk people who get the flu.
The above 3 actions will either help protect you from getting the flu or help you to get over the flu quicker with less discomfort. As I mentioned above, don’t put it off… put it on your to do list every year.
Have you gotten a flu shot this season? Or have you had the flu this season?