When you start to feel a little hint of crispness in the air, it can only mean one thing – flu season in Greenville, TX is upon us. Even though flu can strike at any time, it is most common from October through May. In the U.S. it peaks between December and February.
The seasonal flu is caused by the influenza virus which comes in a variety of strains. Each year the strains vary, leaving us with little immunity for the coming season.
The good news is you don’t have to wait until the flu arrives to fight it. Here are a few steps to take now for the best chance at a healthy fall and winter.
Get Your Flu Shot
The news was quick to report that the flu vaccine last year did an unusually poor job at protecting against the strains of flu that were circulating. Unfortunately that happens from time to time. Predictions have to be made early in the year about which strains will be common in order to manufacture enough vaccine for the coming season. The flu is a slippery virus, and last year it morphed into different versions between the time the predictions were made and the actual flu season arrived. This means a lot of people got the flu even though they already had the shot.
But there are two very important reasons this shouldn’t stop you from getting your flu shot.
- This year’s vaccine looks like it is going to a good match for the most common circulating flu strains. That means there are good odds that it will protect you.
- It turns out that even though a vaccine might not completely prevent the flu in all cases, it does appear to decrease the severity of illness. Research on flu cases between 2009 and 2014 showed that those who had been vaccinated reported milder symptoms than those who had not.
The CDC recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of six months. Remember, when you get your flu shot, you are not just protecting yourself, but you are protecting others who don’t have a robust immune system – infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune symptoms from diseases like cancer.
Practice Good Habits to Stop the Spread of Germs
Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. Just a few easy daily habits can make the difference between staying healthy or a few miserable days in bed.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick if at all possible.
- Disinfect commonly touched areas frequently – think phones, doorknobs, and faucet handles.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. These areas are entry points for the flu virus.
If You Think You Have the Flu
People at high risk for flu complications – the elderly, infants, pregnant women, and people with certain diseases – should be treated with antiviral medication. If you are not at particularly high risk, you may still choose to take antiviral medication to limit your symptoms.
Antivirals are most effective against the flu during the first 48 hours of illness, so do not delay seeing your physician if you become ill and want the benefit of these medications.
If you have flu symptoms you should stay home from work or school. The CDC recommends you stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
And please be sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or the crook of your elbow instead of your bare hand to limit spreading the virus.
Protecting yourself and those around you from the flu doesn’t have to be a full time job. Getting the flu vaccine early, and then practicing good habits to prevent the spread of the virus give you the best shot at a healthy flu season in Greenville, TX.
Need to get your flu shot? Give us a call to schedule it. It’s not too early!