The flu season is upon us and the number of cases in certain states has increased over last year. According to a local news report, Wisconsin state health officials have confirmed 113 cases this year compared to seven last year at this time. Have you and your family been vaccinated? If not, it is not too late!
Being married to an RN, my family has no choice but to get the flu vaccine. A choice that, in my opinion, is very wise.
According to the CDC, up to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. The flu (influenza) they are referring to is a respiratory infection. In young children and older adults, this infection can lead to serious complications and even death. Approximately 3,000 to 49,000 flu-related deaths occur each year; hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized. The most common, safe, and effective way to protect you and your family from the flu and its complications is through the flu vaccine.
A new flu vaccine is developed every year to keep up with the ever-changing flu virus. So if you were vaccinated last year, you need to get vaccinated this year. Here are the four types of flu vaccines available.
1. Flu shot: This is the traditional method that has been around since the 1940s. The vaccine contains an inactive strain of the virus that fuels your defenses (immune system). But don’t worry; the flu shot doesn’t cause you to get sick from the flu.
2. High-dose flu shot: This flu shot was developed for adults ages 65 and older. It contains the same ingredients as the traditional flu shot, but are administered at a higher dosage. Like a car battery, an aging immune system needs a jump start.
3. Intradermal flu shot: This flu shot is available to people ages 18 to 64. The ingredients for this shot are the same as the traditional flu shot, but this shot uses a very fine needle that only punctures the skin.
4. Nasal-spray mist: Since my kids don’t like shots, they opt for the nasal spray. The nasal spray contains a live weakened flu virus; however, my children have never gotten sick from it. The nasal spray is only recommended for healthy people ages 2 to 49.
All vaccinations this year will protect you against the H1N1 flu (swine flu) and two additional viruses scientists expect to be present this fall and winter. Remember that it takes your body about two weeks to develop flu fighting anti-bodies.
While the benefits of a flu vaccination outweigh the risks, it’s always important to talk to your primary doctor before getting one. Those who are allergic to eggs or chicken proteins should not get the vaccine.
If you don’t plan to get a flu vaccine, here are some tips to help keep you, your family, and those around you healthy.
1. One of the best ways to prevent illness is to wash your hands regularly. Use hot water and plenty of soap, and tell your family to do the same. Experts recommend washing your hands for at least 30 seconds. I also keep antibacterial hand sanitizer at my workstation and in my car’s glove compartment.
2. Prevent touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; this is a common way for germs to enter your body.
3. Sneeze into a tissue rather than dirty hands. This can protect you, as well as others.
4. Frequently clean commonly-touched surfaces or objects in your home, car, or workplace, including your steering wheel, doorknobs/handles, hand rails, remote controls, keyboards, and phones.
5. Exercise regularly.
6. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
7. Always replace your toothbrush after recovering from an illness.
9. Prevent spreading the virus by staying home or going home if you begin to feel sick at work.
To learn how your state is faring against the flu this year, select this link.
Do you have any comments or safety tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.