Flu season is upon us and no one is exempt from its wrath. The flu is usually treatable at home, but in rare cases can require hospitalization and even lead to death. The most susceptible populations are young children, the elderly, and those with suppressed immune systems. It’s important to take some preventative measures to keep yourself safe this season.
FLU SHOTS. Flu shots are often the first line of defense. While these are not a required vaccine, they are very effective. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine.
However, not everyone can get a flu shot. Children younger than 6 months old or persons with severe allergies to the vaccine ingredients should not receive a vaccine. It should also be noted that the flu virus is ever-evolving and a season’s vaccine may not be formulated to protect against a new strain that pops up. This is why everyone must stay vigilant with other preventative measures even if a vaccine was administered.
WIPEOUT GERMS. Avoiding contact with or eliminating germs is very effective in preventing the flu. Frequent handwashing with soap and water and disinfecting high traffic surfaces like doorknobs and handles help eliminate flu germs. Use disinfectant wipes on grocery cart handles. Avoid close interactions with people who appear to be sick, as some people, unfortunately, do not stay home when sick. If someone in your home is sick, keep him or her home and make sure they’re covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. If you’re not sick, do not touch your mouth or nose to prevent transmitting germs from your hands.
NO SHARING. It’s important to note that germs can stick to surfaces and transmit from object to person. Parents should not drink after their children or share food. Tell children not to share pens and pencils at school or to wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe before using. If you let someone borrow your phone, wipe it down when returned.
RELAX. Stress has been shown to suppress the immune system and make people more susceptible to illness. Being able to recognize stress and find ways to relax can help boost your immunity. Some common ways to help reduce stress include meditation, healthy eating, and exercise.
REST. Lack of rest is another immunity suppressor. Assess your schedule or routine and make sure you’re able to designate enough time to get fully rested. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSP), getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night gives your immune system a better chance of fighting off diseases. NSP also recommends supplementing with naps if your nighttime sleep is interrupted or cut short.
We can’t guarantee you won’t get the flu this season, but taking measures such as these can greatly reduce the risk. Asking others around you to also follow these methods will also help by also reducing their risk of getting sick.