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Flu Prevention Is More Important Than Ever

  • Category: COVID-19
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Flu Prevention Is More Important Than Ever

Media Contact: Karina Rusk

With all the focus on COVID-19 over the past several months, it’s easy to forget that we are about to face another potentially dangerous viral outbreak – influenza, more commonly known as the flu. The good news? There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from the seasonal flu, and the vigilance you’ve shown for behaviors like thorough handwashing, mask-wearing and social distancing to prevent COVID-19 offer added layers of protection.

In the United States, flu season hits in the fall and winter with activity typically peaking between December and February, but the season can continue into May. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu can cause mild to severe illness. People over the age of 65, infants and young children, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are at the highest risk for severe complications.

Common symptoms of flu include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal congestion/runny nose
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

The common cold can cause similar symptoms, but flu symptoms are typically more severe and long-lasting.

Reduce Your Chance of Getting the Flu

You can reduce your, and your family’s, flu risk by practicing these healthy behaviors:

  1. Get an annual flu shot. Everyone over the age of 6 months should get an annual flu shot. Babies and children getting their first flu shot will need to have a series of two injections. Each year, scientists determine the flu strains most likely to circulate and include those in the shot. Some years’ vaccines are a better match than others, but even if they cannot prevent 100 percent of flu infections the CDC says the vaccines:
    • Prevent millions of flu-related illnesses and physicians visits each year
    • Reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick
    • Reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults and seniors
    • Reduce the risk of flu-related complications in people with chronic conditions
    • Protect women during and after pregnancy
    • Help protect those who cannot receive the flu shot, like young babies and people with certain health conditions

Getting your flu shot is especially important this year. Because the symptoms of flu can be very similar to COVID-19, a high number of flu cases could overwhelm a healthcare system that is actively managing the threat of COVID-19. Some experts have also warned that getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could be very risky.

Don’t forget to get your flu shot! Salinas Valley Health is holding community flu clinics throughout the fall. You can also get a flu vaccine at your doctor’s office or at many retail pharmacies. The shot is free with most insurance plans.

  1. Practice health-protecting behaviors. The same advice you’ve been given to help prevent COVID-19 also applies to the flu. These common-sense approaches help protect you and those around you:
    • Wear a mask in public places.
    • Practice social distancing.
    • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and use hand sanitizer.
    • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often.
    • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
    • Stay home if you are sick.
    • Call your doctor if you have severe symptoms.
  1. Naturally boost your immune system. Bad health habits can lower your body’s natural defenses, so focus on healthy strategies to keep your immunity as strong as possible:
    • Find ways to reduce stress. Daily exercise and relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation may help.
    • Get enough sleep. Experts recommend 7 to 8 hours each night.
    • Eat a healthy diet. Focus on fruits and vegetables to get many of the vitamins you need.
    • Drink plenty of water. Adequate hydration helps improve many bodily functions.
    • Get moving. Exercise improves cardiovascular and respiratory health and helps you maintain a healthy weight.
    • Don’t smoke. Cigarettes can compromise your respiratory health and lead to other problems.
    • Avoid overindulging in alcohol. Heavy drinking can depress the immune system and lead to other health problems.

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