Influenza and its counterpart pneumonia regularly rank among the top 10 causes of death in the United States, and can be especially risky for certain populations, like people with cardiovascular disease.
Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA
Volunteer President, American Heart Association
Heart disease is one of the most common chronic conditions among adults hospitalized with the flu — associated with about half of all flu hospitalizations.
By following a few simple tips, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season.
1. Get your flu shot — it’s not too late
If you’ve put off your annual flu vaccine, it’s not too late to get one. Flu season typically peaks between December and February, but being vaccinated anytime during flu season is better than not at all.
Getting the flu shot protects you and the people around you by reducing your risk of getting the flu in the first place. Even if you do get the flu, the flu shot helps reduce the severity of your illness.
The flu shot is recommended for virtually everyone 6 months and older. It’s easy to get at places like a doctor’s office, neighborhood pharmacy, or community clinic, like a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The COVID-19 vaccine is also available at these places, and you can get them at the same time.
2. Wash your hands and keep them away from your face
Washing hands frequently is a best practice for preventing the spread of viruses like the ones that cause the flu. Keeping your hands away from your face is also important since many germs enter and escape our bodies through our noses and mouths.
3. See a healthcare provider at the first sign of flu
If you do suspect you’ve caught the flu, get tested as soon as possible. If a healthcare professional confirms you have the flu early enough, an oral antiviral treatment may help reduce the duration of the sickness and get you back on your feet faster.
Learn more about flu prevention at heart.org/flu.