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How to Prepare Your Family for Flu Season

Last year’s flu season was the first to be classified as a high-severity level across all age groups by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with hospitalization rates at their highest recorded in recent years. Now is the time to prepare your family and protect those most at risk.

Get Vaccinated Before Halloween

The CDC recommends that everyone above the age of six months receive this year’s flu vaccine before the end of October. Last year, flu season generally peaked between November and February, with January being one of the worst months for hospitalizations.

Questioning if you really need a vaccine? Sadly, the statistics are quite sobering. As of late August 2018, a total of 180 pediatric deaths were reported to the CDC during the 2017-2018 flu season (the highest number in recent years). Approximately 80 percent of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination. Flu vaccines are not perfect, but they do save lives.

Most health insurance programs cover flu shots. If you are concerned about affording vaccines for your family, there are many different discounted or free options to consider. Contact your doctor or pharmacy for more information.

Prevent the Spread of Germs

Aside from protecting yourself and others by getting vaccinated, you should also do what you can to limit the spread of the illness. The CDC has three recommendations:

  1. Stay home if you are sick – If you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine). For students, that means they should be home and away from both school and extracurricular activities.
  2. Wash hands often – We should all wash our hands with soap and water after coughing or sneezing, before eating, and before touching our faces in any way. If soap is not available, an alcohol-based hand rub may also be used.
  3. Clean contaminated surfaces – Regularly disinfecting surfaces like doorknobs, bathrooms, kitchens, and mobile devices can help stop the spread of germs.

Protect Your Family’s Immunity

There are some additional ways you can help your family minimize sick days this flu season .

First, be extra careful at the doctor’s office. Consider purchasing and using face masks when visiting hospitals or busy pediatrician offices. It sounds extreme, but experts and hospital workers believe this may reduce the spread of flu germs. At the least, practice your very best hand-washing hygiene each time your family visits a medical office of any kind during flu season.

Second, practice good health habits in general. Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated goes a long way towards protecting your family’s immunity against the flu virus.

Flu Symptoms to Watch For

If you or someone in your family begins experiencing flu symptoms and they are also high-risk (e.g. people 65 years and older and people of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, pregnant women, and young children), call your doctor right away.

If you are an otherwise healthy adult with flu symptoms, call your doctor if you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Difficulty staying hydrated
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worsening cough

In summary, there is no better way to avoid the flu than by getting a flu shot and practicing good health habits. Protect your family with these healthy tips!

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