Early fall is the time when flu activity generally starts. It’s important to start taking the following steps to protect yourself, coworkers, and loved ones from catching the virus, which can be life-threatening for some people. Here is what health experts recommend:
Get the whole family vaccinated. While the timing, severity and length of the flu season is unpredictable, it’s common for new strains to emerge each year. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting an annual seasonal flu vaccine as the number one way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu and spread it to others.
- Everyone age 6 months or older should have an annual flu shot. It’s especially important for people at higher risk, including young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses such as asthma, and those who care for others who are at high risk.
- The flu shot is not recommended for those younger than six months or who may have severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or ingredients in it.
Avoid close contact with sick people. And when you’re sick, limit contact with others.
Wash your hands often. Or, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Cover your mouth. Sneeze and cough into a tissue or into your elbow (if a tissue isn’t handy). It’s the best way to prevent virus droplets from becoming airborne.
Avoid touching your nose and eyes. And don’t nibble on your nails. The virus gains entry into the body through the nose, eyes and mouth.
Think you have the flu?
Know the symptoms. A fever over 100 degrees, achy muscles, chills and sweats, dry cough, fatigue, weakness and congestion could mean you have the flu.
Call your doctor. Your doctor may provide a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Stay home. Going to work or being out and about while sick will only spread the disease. The CDC recommends staying home until you are free of fever for 24 hours.
Load up on liquids and rest. You’ll prevent dehydration and help your immune system mount a good defense.
Remember, getting a flu shot is the leading way to protect yourself from the influenza virus, possibly avoiding the miserable symptoms, missed work or school…and maybe even hospitalization. You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office, local pharmacy, and even at work if your employer offers vaccines on-site, and it only takes a few minutes at most. Plus, flu shots are covered as a preventive service under most health plans. So you should be able to get vaccinated at little to no cost to you.