When to Get Vaccinated
Vaccinations are recommended annually because of the ever-changing nature of the influenza virus. Every year, scientists predict which strains will be most prevalent and develop an updated vaccine to better protect against the new and different variations of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends anyone over the age of 6 months (including pregnant women in any trimester and especially those with compromised immune systems, such as children and the elderly) receive an influenza vaccination as early as late August. It takes an average of two weeks before the body fully develops antibodies to protect against the flu, but viruses begin to thrive as soon as cooler temperatures, drier air, and frequent human interaction begins. According to the CDC, influenza activity in the United States typically begins in October and peaks between December and February lasting until May, which means the earlier you and your family receive the flu shot, the better.
For 2017-18, the CDC recommends the injectable flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), and not the nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV)). The flu shot is offered at several locations near you, including doctor’s offices, health departments, pharmacies, clinics, and more.
Your Action Plan
Whether you’re already feeling under the weather or are determined to stay healthy, here are preventive tips to help you and your family stay safe this season.
Get a flu shot as soon as possible
As stated before, the sooner the better. The flu shot is found to reduce the risk of developing the flu by 40 to 60 percent — a major advantage considering the millions of flu-related illnesses in Americans each year. The influenza vaccine currently protects against the three or four viruses research shows will be the most prominent (including influenza A virus, H1N1 component).
Maintain a healthy diet
Pack your family’s diet with superfoods, antioxidants, healthy protein, calcium, and Vitamin C. What you put in your body will help determine how strong your resistance to the flu will be.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule
Regular sleep is essential to keep your body’s antibodies strong. Even a few days of irregular or limited sleep can lead to a weakened immune system.
Wash hands frequently
Eliminate germs several times each day by washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If a sink isn’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer to protect your hands.
Healthy, frequent exercise can boost your immune system to better fight infection. Take caution if you’re already feeling sick, though — pushing your body too hard as it’s fighting symptoms can increase your risk. If you’re already bed-ridden with a fever and body aches, it’s best to stay home until you’re feeling better.
Avoid sick people
Remember, the flu spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces, respiratory droplets, and infectious secretions. Protect your respiratory system by keeping a safe distance from coughing individuals and rescheduling play dates if your children’s friends have been exhibiting flu symptoms. Return the favor by staying home from work or school if symptoms arise.
Don’t risk your health
The flu can range from minor symptoms to severe hospitalizations and can yield differing symptoms based on type. Contact your healthcare provider if you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
- Respiratory issues in the nose, throat, or lungs ─ such as a cough or sore throat
- Sudden fatigue or muscle and body aches
- Fever or chills
- Sinus or ear infections or pneumonia
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Most influenza cases fully recover between two days and two weeks, depending on if or when treatment is received. Most antiviral medications work best within 48 hours of infection but may still be beneficial at any stage of the sickness. If you’re feeling symptoms developing or worsening, seek medical attention right away.
Canopy Health Advocates for Health
Canopy Health is committed to bringing health and wellness to the Bay Area through our alliance members and carrier partners, and we know the importance of keeping your family safe, healthy, and informed.
Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season. (2017, September 14). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2017/09/18/flu-season-shots-fall-winter/
Mukherjee, S. (2017, September 9). Why We Get Our Flu Shots in the Fall. Fortune. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2017/09/18/flu-season-shots-fall-winter/