Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Flu Prevention Tips

Did you get your flu shot this year? The CDC lists it as its #1 recommendation for influenza prevention, but got I sick anyway! Influenza is a respiratory illness and it's also extremely contagious. It spreads in droplets when persons infected with the virus cough, sneeze, or even talk. You can also catch the flu by touching an object that has the virus on it and then transferring the germs to your mouth or eyes via your hands. Young children, pregnant women, and the elderly are at greatest risk for developing serious complications if they become infected with influenza.
I guess I should have paid closer attention to all the other suggestions from the medical community for preventing a bout with this year's flu bug. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation's health protection agency. Its main charge is to save lives and protect people from health threats. The CDC has proclaimed the best method of influenza prevention is to get vaccinated. Check, I did that! It's best to not only be vaccinated but to also adhere to the additional prevention tips outlined by the CDC. The agency suggests measures such as good hand washing technique with soap and water to lessen the spread of germs. If soap and water are not available an alcohol based hand rub is a good substitute. Hospitals and many other public locations such as schools, pharmacies, banks, and grocery stores have systems set up in the entryway to purify your hands. In addition, you'll want to clean with soap and water and also disinfect frequently touched areas in your home and place of employment. (This could be a real chore as you know how I totally love cleaning day and night. NOT!). Another good habit to prevent becoming ill with the flu is to avoid close contact with anyone whom is sick. This, however, may not be so easy if you have little ones around!
Although it is best to get the vaccine early before the flu season begins, the good news is you can still be protected if you are vaccinated during the time when the flu is active in your community. However, it does take approximately two weeks after being vaccinated for the antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection for you. If you are unable to visit with your personal physician for the influenza vaccine, there are several pharmacies and community health centers which offer the protection at reasonable cost to you. Many of these sites also will accept your personal insurance if your policy covers the flu vaccine. I went to our local Walgreens pharmacy and was seen and vaccinated within a few minutes of my arrival. Some locations also offer the nasal spray vaccine for children and eligible adults. The CDC has additional information on their website regarding guidelines for candidates for this method of vaccination. Also, if you are trying to locate a flu shot provider in your area, the HealthMap Vaccine Finder is a helpful tool. So just keep calm and get your flu shot now!

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