There’s no denying it – the 2017-2018 flu season has been a rough one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 700,000 hospitalizations are caused by the flu annually, but 2018 has been an especially harsh year for the flu already (source). Children and senior citizens are the hardest hit by the flu each year, but you can protect yourself by learning how to avoid the flu.
How to Avoid the Flu
When Should I Get Vaccinated?
According to the CDC, October is the best time of year to get the flu vaccine. And because the strain of flu changes a little each year, it’s important to get vaccinated before each flu season. Vaccines are offered through January and February, so don’t let a lapsed vaccination leave your immune system exposed. Even if you haven’t gotten the flu vaccine this season, it’s not too late. Once you get the vaccine, your body develops the antibodies needed to protect you from the flu within two weeks. Vaccinations are the best defense available if you’re wondering how to avoid the flu.
Where Can I Get the Flu Vaccine?
You no longer need to visit your regular physician to get a flu vaccine. Clinics and pharmacies now provide vaccines, but call ahead to make sure they still have a supply.
Can I Get the Flu Even If I Got Vaccinated?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. As this helpful article in Self Magazine explains, the flu shot is only 40 to 60 percent effective in any given year. In 2018, that rate dropped to 30 percent. It might not sound great, but doctors agree that the flu vaccine is the best answer for how to avoid the flu.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself from the Flu?
Besides getting the flu vaccine, there are a few other ways you can protect yourself from the flu. One of the best ways to avoid the flu is to wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap. If you don’t have soap, use antibacterial hand gel as a last resort. Next, avoid contact with people who are sick. The flu spreads through physical contact, so you should wash your hands before touching your mouth, eyes, and nose, especially if you’ve been around someone with flu symptoms, like coughing and sneezing.
If you’re already sick with the flu, stay home. The flu spreads easily, so the best way to prevent your family and friends from catching the illness is to avoid contact until you’re no longer contagious.
How Does the Flu Spread?
Did you know that you can infect someone with the flu before you even notice symptoms? That means you can spread the flu before you even know that you are sick. That’s just one reason the flu is so destructive each year. According to the CDC, the flu spreads from person to person and can be contagious within six feet. And it’s not just coughing or sneezing that spreads the flu. Sharing utensils or touching surfaces that have been contaminated can spread the illness as well. That’s why it’s so important to wash your hands with soap and water before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
If you’re a resident at Hearthside Senior Living and you have more questions about how to avoid the flu, our team of nurses can help answer your questions.
Looking for a retirement community? You can learn more about our assisted living community, located in Collierville, Tennessee, by contacting us online. With numerous amenities and services, we provide more than a home for our residents; we provide a community full of activities, classes, home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, and medical care, so all of our seniors can embrace a happy and healthful lifestyle.