Have You Had Your Flu Shot?
Flu seasons are unpredictable. While the flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies. Flu viruses are constantly changing, so it’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year.
Flu season usually starts in October and peaks in January. According to the CDC, flu shot vaccinations are approximately 75 percent effective. Although they don’t provide complete protection, physicians and medical care providers believe being vaccinated is the most effective way of preventing the flu.
The CDC recommends an annual vaccination for anyone 6 months of age and older, as well as people with high risk factors. Children under 2 years and adults over 65 years, pregnant women, and people with heart disease or diabetes fall into the high risk category.
While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the season. People should get their vaccinations as soon as vaccines becomes available, ideally by the beginning of October. This ensures that as many people as possible are well protected, before the flu season begins.
Here are a few ways to help prevent the flu:
- Avoid close contact – Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick – Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose – Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Clean your hands – Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Keep things clean to reduce germs – Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
- Practice other good health habits – Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.