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Take action to prevent the flu

August 31, 2023
2 minutes

With flu season approaching, it’s good to remember that you can do a lot to lower your risk of getting this contagious virus. The payoff for doing so is that you can enjoy life during flu season instead of being sick in bed or hospitalized.

Reduce your risk of catching the virus, getting really sick or making others sick with these actions:

1. Get a flu vaccine. And make sure everyone in your family age 6 months or older gets a flu shot annually before flu season starts, which is usually in September or early October. Why every year? Each flu season, experts determine which flu viruses will be most prominent during the upcoming flu season and develop the vaccine accordingly.

Before getting the vaccine, talk to your primary care provider to determine:

  • If there’s a health reason, you or a family member should not get vaccinated this year.
  • If you or a family member should get a flu shot or the flu nasal spray.

2. Take other steps to avoid getting sick. If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s the proper protocol for keeping germs away:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Keep home, car and work surfaces clean and disinfected.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Steer clear of sick people.

3. Avoid infecting others. If you have flu symptoms, take care not to infect friends and family:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Limit your contact with people.
  • If you have a fever because of the flu, avoid people up to 24 hours after your fever breaks.
  • Keep in mind that even if your flu symptoms are mild, you risk infecting people in vulnerable populations: young children; pregnant women; people 65 or older; and people with chronic health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

4. Ask about taking antiviral medication if you do get the flu. The flu vaccine isn’t perfect. You can sometimes still get the flu even if you’re vaccinated. Talk to your primary care provider if you think you have the flu. Prescription antivirals can help:

  • Keep your flu symptoms on the mild side.
  • Shorten the time you spend sick.
  • Prevent serious flu complications.

With the vaccine and other steps, the flu season can be just like any other season.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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