Fall is almost here, and as cooler weather approaches it is time to schedule an appointment for your annual flu shot! Though we are excited about the autumn season, it is important to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu and all the complications that may come with it. Taking the proper precautions reduces your chance of getting ill or making others sick, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We have compiled some information that will be helpful in your efforts to best keep yourself and loved ones healthy this season!
What is the flu?
The flu or influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that is common during mid-October to early April, though it usually peaks in February. The virus often spreads through coughs and sneezes of those infected when their respiratory fluid becomes airborne.
Common symptoms are:
- Fever/feeling feverish or the chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle and body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
It is important to note that not everyone who has the flu will have a fever.
Why should I get vaccinated?
The flu virus can evolve quickly, and last year’s vaccine may not protect you against this year’s virus. The vaccine is designed to protect against three or four strains of the virus that research indicates will be most prevalent during the year’s season. In addition to protecting yourself, getting vaccinated also protects those around you.
Who should get the flu shot?
Everyone over the age of 6 should get a flu shot annually. It is especially important for those at higher risk of more severe reactions to the virus to get vaccinated such as pregnant women, young children, adults over the age of 65, and people with chronic conditions.
Will I still get the flu if I am vaccinated?
Unfortunately, it is still possible to catch the flu even if you have been vaccinated. The flu virus can change unpredictably, however that doesn’t mean that the vaccine is useless. The vaccine does provide you with some level of protection. Those who get the flu after vaccination often report less severe symptoms for a shorter duration of time.
We’d also like to point out that the vaccine does not give you the flu. It is created with an inactive part of the virus, but it does not contain the flu itself. You may experience flu-like symptoms as your body prepares the immune system, however, they shouldn’t last longer than a few days.
Is it too late or too early to get vaccinated?
As long as the flu is circulating it is never too late to get vaccinated. The vaccination is the best way to prevent flu illness and flu-related complications. The vaccine takes about two weeks to reach its maximum strength, so it doesn’t hurt to get vaccinated early as we enter the colder months.
How do you treat the flu?
If you get the flu, please stay home from work and school to avoid the spread of the virus. In most cases, the flu resolves itself. It is important to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and also take medication to relieve your fever and aches. If your symptoms persist longer than 7 to 10 days, you may need to visit the doctor.
Other Tips for Preventing the Flu
The best way to prevent the flu is vaccination, but we have other tips to help combat the flu season as well. Practice good hygiene by washing hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth without washing your hands first in case you’ve come in contact with the virus. Frequently disinfect and clean common surfaces that can be easily contaminated such as tables and doorknobs to prevent the spread of germs.
We hope these tips help you to navigate this year’s flu season and have a healthy winter. For more information or to schedule an appointment to get your flu shot, contact Innovative Care Medicine today.