The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that every year, between 5-20 percent of U.S. residents will develop seasonal influenza, known as “the flu.” It also estimates more than 200,000 people will be hospitalized for flu-like symptoms and complications. Medical professionals have determined that the flu shot vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu. Vaccines are available now for the 2013-2014 winter flu season!
The flu shot is typically available from October through May. It is recommended that you obtain your vaccination as early as possible, as early vaccination has been shown to be most effective. However, it is never too late to protect yourself during flu season. You are 60 percent less likely to get the flu if you have received the flu shot, according to flu.gov.
Everyone should be vaccinated annually, with the exception of individuals with severe allergies to chicken eggs, those with a history of a severe reaction to the vaccine and infants younger than six months. If you are unsure about whether or not you should get vaccinated, your primary care doctor can help you decide if it is right for you.
In addition to the vaccination, here are a few best practices recommended for flu prevention:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Keep an alcohol-based hand rub with you and use it after visiting public places or being around large groups of people
- Boost your immune system by quality self care: exercise often, stay hydrated, eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods and get plenty of sleep each night
- Stay home for at least 24 hours if you have flu-like symptoms, or longer if fever does not subsist without the use of fever-reducing medicine
- Avoid close contact with sick people or people who have been exposed to illness. Remember that flu is contagious for up to seven days after symptoms begin
If you do not have a primary care physician, please consider visiting www.gbmc.org/mydoctor to find one who is right for you.