Flu season is in full swing and unfortunately, there have already been some deaths including one child from Florida. In fact, according to the CDC, last year’s season, “was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeks.”. Some sources even go so far to state that there were 80,000 deaths last flu season although adult deaths due to influenza are not officially tracked by the CDC.
The flu is serious and it is time that we all start treating it that way. It is way more than a nasty cold and can lead to pneumonia and other life threatening complications.
Who is at the Highest Risk?
- Young children under age 5, and especially those under 2 years
- Adults older than age 65
- People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes
- Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
- People with weakened immune systems
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
These people need to get vaccinated for the flu. Which is the first item on my list, so let’s get started.
10 Ways to Avoid Getting the Flu
1. Get Vaccinated
If you are in any of the categories listed above, it is very important to get the flu vaccine. If you fall into these groups, you are have a high risk for developing life threatening complications from the flu. If you know someone that belongs in these categories and you do not get vaccinated, you are putting them at risk as well. That is why it is highly recommended that everyone get the flu vaccine. (I will be discussing the vaccine in further detail below)
2. Wash Your Hands A Lot!
Wash your hands as much as you can stand and then wash a few more times! This is one of the best ways to kill germs but it has to be done correctly. Make sure that you are washing for at least 20 seconds making sure to get the entire surface including in between the fingers and your wrists. For more information from the CDC on proper hand washing, click HERE.
3. Use Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizer
If you work with the public or are at a public event, use hand sanitizer during times when hand washing isn’t easy to do.
4. Avoid Touching your Eyes, Nose or Mouth
Germs often are spread when a person touches an object contaminated with germs and then touches one of those facial areas. This sounds so simple but we really do not realize how often we touch or face throughout a day. So, if you go into a grocery store and you pick up an item off the shelf that was touched by someone that is contaminated, the germs could be on you hands. When you touch your face by scratching an itchy nose you give the germs a way to enter your body! It really is that simple.
5. Avoid Close Contact with People
It may feel rude, but do not hug people or shake hands during flu season. Someone may be carrying the flu virus and may not be aware of it. This is especially important if you are a part of the high risk groups that I listed above.
6. Have your Children Shower Right After They Get Home from School
This may sound strange but do you really want the germs spreading to every surface in your home? Schools can be breeding grounds for germs and when a sickness of any kind is going around it spreads quickly. So, when they get home have them go ahead and shower and put on fresh clothing. If this is not possible, at least make them change clothes and wash their face and hands.
7. Bring Your Own Pen
Do not use pens that are at banks, doctor’s offices and other public places that are kept out for public use! I don’t think this needs an explanation!
8. Sanitize your Cell Phone
I saw on a show a few years ago where they randomly tested people’s cell phones for germs. The results were disgusting! There were more germs on 1 cell phone by parts per million than in a public restroom sink area! It isn’t too hard to figure out why. We touch them all day, sit them down everywhere and we put it up to our face to talk on it! Yuck!
9. Get your Immune System up to Speed
Make sure your are getting plenty of rest and are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. It also doesn’t hurt to take a multivitamin every day as well.
10. If Someone has the Flu, Stay Away from Them!
Again, that sounds simple but so many people do not heed this warning.
A Common Misconception About the Influenza Vaccine
- Flu Vaccines do not cause the flu: If you have ever had a stuffy nose or chills after a few days of getting the flu shot, that is your body building up the antibodies to fight the flu. It lasts a day or two and is not as severe as an actual case of the Flu.
Effectiveness of the Influenza Vaccine
I will be honest, I have gotten an actual verified case of the flu a few months after taking a flu shot. They are not 100% effective and that is why the tips above are also important.
The CDC says that people can get the flu in spite of getting vaccinated because, “they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity between the viruses selected. There are many different flu viruses.” Typically, the vaccine is about 40% effective each year. That automatically cuts your risk by almost half so those are pretty good odds!
The 2018-2019 flu season has just begun and there are already deaths in Florida and Kentucky. Many are already being hospitalized with serious complications in other states. Since this is the first week of flu season, it is an indication that it may be an active season.
It is important to get vaccinated and take all of the precautions listed above to avoid getting the flu.
Finally, If you do get the flu, please stay home to keep from spreading the illness to others.
Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information and first hand accounts about a serious medical condition. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice.