According to flu.gov, “Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses.” To ensure you’re not part of the 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population affected by the combination of symptoms including fever, body aches, tiredness and cough, heed these tips from Papatya Tankut, RPh, vice president of pharmacy affairs for CVS Caremark.
Get the flu shot early and annually.
The flu shot is updated annually to protect against the latest flu strains and help prevent the spread of the virus to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu shot as soon as vaccinations are available, typically in August.
Stop the excuses.
Many pharmacy locations make it convenient to get the flu shot by offering daytime, evening and weekend hours. No appointment is necessary, and most health plans are accepted.
Take extra precautions.
Expectant women are more susceptible to getting sick because their immune systems are weaker than usual. During pregnancy, the flu can escalate quickly and be complicated by infections such as fetal distress or pneumonia. Moms-to-be should make sure they are up-to- date on all vaccines, including the flu shot.
Wash hands frequently.
To help combat germs, wash hands often (especially after coughing or sneezing) with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose areas. Alcohol-based soaps and hand cleaners are effective when on the go.
Practice good health habits.
Getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking adequate fluids, and eating nutritious food are all healthy habits that can help keep your immune system in top condition during flu season.
Make sure your kids are safe.
Children younger than age 5 (and especially those under the age of 2) are at high risk for flu-related complications and should be vaccinated. The influenza vaccine, however, is not approved for children younger than 6 months of age, so the flu shot you receive during pregnancy will protect your baby until he’s old enough to receive his own.