As we head into flu season, remember — prevention of disease is better than the cure. The reality is that even healthy people can get the flu, and it can be serious.
Steps to prevent the flu for yourself as well as others around you might be easier than you think. Here are a few easy-to-follow tips:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds.
- Keep your distance when you are sick or if you are around someone else who is sick.
- Get an annual flu vaccination.
An annual flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the most common types of influenza and is safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the annual influenza vaccine for everyone six months of age and older.
No one is immune from the flu; and it’s important to get vaccinated not just for yourself, but for the safety of those around you who may be more susceptible to the more severe effects of the flu, such as young children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems or who may be living with a chronic disease like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease. Some people infected with the flu virus can be contagious even if they show no symptoms.
The flu can make chronic health problems worse, and for some, the flu can result in hospitalizations or sometimes death. The reality is that annual flu-related deaths in the U.S. can range from 3,300 to 48,000, depending on the severity of the season.
While flu vaccination rates across the country have risen, too many people are still unprotected every year, with only 41 percent of adults over the age of 18 receiving the flu vaccine in 2016. We can do better. Get your annual flu vaccine at a local pharmacy or through your health care provider. Remember, the flu shot is covered by Medicare and other health insurance.