Wondering how to avoid the flu this fall? Stay home. Just kidding … kind of. Sadly, the only way to be sure you won’t get the flu is to avoid people, germs, and the outdoors. For most, the life of a recluse is less than desirable, at best. What can reasonable, social, outdoor-loving people do about the flu? Lucky for you, there are some steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting it and maximize your effectiveness at fighting it if you do.
Yes, you do need a flu shot. Let’s dispel a few myths about flu shots and their effectiveness. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Flu shots are made with inactivated viruses that are incapable of transmitting infection. A person who gets sick after the flu shot was exposed already or became exposed in the two-week period before the shot takes full effect. You should get a flu shot even if you are young and healthy. It’s true that certain people have a greater need for flu shots—children age six months to four years, pregnant woman, people in their fifties, and those with chronic illness— but every person can benefit from the flu shot.
You need a flu shot this year even if you got it last year. The flu shot is created to treat the three to four strains of flu thought to be most prevalent each season, and since there are numerous strains of flu, you are more likely to be protected if you have a new shot annually. Additionally, a person’s immunity from vaccines declines over time, and an annual flu shot will provide optimal protection. If you have ever gotten a flu shot and still gotten the flu that season, your skepticism is understandable, but rest assured it does help. Flu vaccines reduce the risk of flu by forty to sixty percent. They also reduce hospitalization across the board and greatly lessen the chance of serious complications from flu, like heart attack and death. Oh, and hating needles isn’t a good excuse!
While we’re at it, another myth of the flu shot is that it’s all you need to avoid the flu. It would be great if a shot were all it took, but with highly-contagious illnesses such as flu, you have to constantly be protecting yourself. A great way to do this is by practicing good hygiene—wash hands frequently with soap and water, brush teeth regularly and use antibacterial mouthwash, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. You should also try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth since this is primarily how germs spread. Keep your home clean and disinfected, and encourage children, especially if they are school-aged, to wash hands when they come in the house and to throw dirty clothes in a designated area so as not to spread unwanted germs. Do your best to minimize time with people who are sick, and be sure to stay home if you are experiencing symptoms.
If you are someone at increased risk of getting the flu or experiencing complicated symptoms with the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication. Antiviral drugs help prevent viruses from multiplying in the body, which can reduce the severity and length of sickness. These drugs work best when taken within two days of getting sick. Antiviral medication has been shown to decrease ear infections in children and cases of pneumonia in adults. However, for the vast majority of us, rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicine for symptoms are enough to treat the flu. If you are ready to take the best step toward getting the flu this winter, TrustCare Express Medical Clinics can help. Now is the time to stop by and cross this fall to-do off your list. We have five convenient locations, and walk-ins are welcome, so no more excuses! Take the eew out of the flu today!