Achoo! It’s hard to believe, but the flu season is just around the corner. Do you know how to protect yourself and your family this flu season? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are some easy ways to help prevent the flu. The best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated every year.
By getting the flu shot, you protect not only yourself but also those around you. There’s even a term for this: cocooning. Babies less than 6 months old are too young to receive the influenza vaccine. Unvaccinated adults and family members, including parents, are often the ones who unknowingly spread influenza to babies. Everyone has the opportunity to protect babies by getting vaccinated themselves. Cocooning is an easy and effective way that people can work together to prevent the spread of influenza to babies.
“This year, the CDC is recommending that everyone get the shot and not the influenza nasal spray,” said Dr. Teri Stevenson, a pediatrician with Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. “The efficacy of that version of the vaccine was shown to be very minimal last year. The influenza shot is your family’s most effective tool for protection from the flu.”
The greatest influenza activity occurs from October to May in the United States. The flu vaccine for 2016-17 protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common. How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. It’s important to get the flu shot every year, as the flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
In addition to getting the flu shot every year, here are other simple recommendations from flu.gov that can help you prevent influenza in your home:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
•Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
•Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
“We’re fortunate to have a vaccine that is safe and works to prevent influenza, while that’s not the case for other respiratory illnesses,” says Denise Wirth, Eau Claire City-County Health Department nursing supervisor. “We urge you to get your flu shot this year and every year, which not only protects yourself but your loved ones and others around you.”
Getting the flu shot is an important part of keeping yourself and your family healthy this flu season. To learn more about this year’s recommendations, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.