Should I Get a Flu Shot? (and Other Ways to Avoid Seasonal Flu!)
Flu season is almost upon us (October through May), which means it’s time to see your doctor about your yearly flu shot. The flu can be dangerous: it’s very contagious and can cause you to miss work, time with your family and other social events. The flu even forces hundreds of thousands to be hospitalized each year. Since the influenza virus mutates and changes every flu season, it’s important to get your flu shot to help your body build immunity.
How does the flu shot help?
Like any vaccine, the flu shot helps your body produce antibodies. These develop within your immune system and help you fight the flu virus.
Who should get a flu shot?
Most people should get a flu shot. However, some professions and settings are more high-risk than others, placing you in the path of a greater number of germs. If you are a teacher, daycare employee, student, healthcare provider or hospital employee, you definitely should consider getting a flu shot. Some others are at a higher risk for catching the flu, including young children, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and people with chronic medical conditions. You can get more guidance about who should get a flu shot by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online.
Other ways to stay healthy during flu season
The flu shot isn’t the only way to help you avoid the flu. Check out the following tips to stay healthy this season:
- Beware of common surfaces. Door knobs, remote controls, elevator buttons, phones, keyboards and shopping carts are some of the most commonly touched surfaces. Wash your hands after touching these, or use hand sanitizer if you can’t get to a sink right away. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless you have just washed your hands. When washing up, it’s recommended to use hot soapy water, and lather and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Keep your distance. If you have sick coworkers, family or friends, give each other space to get better and to prevent the spread of germs. Assure them you can catch up when everyone is healthy, or try alternative methods of communication. As an extra step, clean your home and shared spaces, such as office cubicles, to help prevent the spread of germs and flu-causing viruses.
- Enjoy some R and R. It’s easy to get run down, especially during the holidays and in the middle of changing seasons. To feel your best and stay your healthiest, take it a little easy. Make sure you get enough sleep each night to recharge your body—at least 7-9 hours.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids. It’s important to eat a balanced diet full of lean proteins, a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lots of water. Fuel your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to help you stay well.
- Stick to your exercise routine. Regular physical activity helps you manage stress, sleep well at night and stay strong —all factors in helping your immune system fight off infection. As the holidays approach, make time for yourself to work out. However, if you do feel yourself coming down with something, it’s important to rest up and feel better before you get back to your exercise routine.
- See your doctor. If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor to ensure a professional diagnosis and recommendations.
Some cold and flu symptoms are very similar, but the flu is often more severe. Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, headache, muscle or body aches and fatigue. To learn more about the flu and the flu shot, just visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
Want more health information? Visit www.meritain.com.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.