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Prevention Checklist: How to Avoid a Brutal Flu Season Like Last Year

The 2018 flu season was one of the worst on record. It was the first to be classified as a high severity season across all age groups, according to new methodology from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Levels of influenza-like illness reported at outpatient clinics and emergency departments exceeded past flu seasons, including the last severe seasonal flu outbreak in 2003 when a new strain started to circulate.

Plus, with 30,454 laboratory-confirmed, influenza-related hospitalizations and 169 influenza-associated pediatric deaths alone, it’s safe to say the 2017-2018 flu season took its toll. A large toll.

Your Flu Prevention Checklist

Thankfully, however, there are some easy things you can do to prep for the 2018-2019 flu season this fall.

1. Get Your Flu Shot

Hands down your best measure for flu prevention is a flu shot. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot, especially those at higher risk like young children, pregnant women and adults 65+.

Because it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to offer maximum protection, it’s important to get vaccinated by the end of October, or earlier, before more severe weather strikes.

Still need to get your shot? Check in online at a GoHealth Urgent Care center near you using the handy locator widget below!

Interesting fact: While vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year (between 40-60%), you can still benefit from the flu shot even if you catch the influenza virus. Repeated studies have shown that getting the flu shot helps reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated and still get sick.  

2. Practice Healthy Habits Daily

Preventing the spread of germs is easier said than done, especially with a highly contagious respiratory disease like the flu. Simple daily habits can serve as a line of defense between you and the influenza virus.

Because flu viruses are known to enter the body through your eyes, nose and mouth, you should try to keep your hands away from your face.

To get rid of bacteria or viruses that may be on your hands, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after eating, after you’ve been in a public place, after using the bathroom, and after you cough or sneeze. (For those of you with young kids, try singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to ensure you’re at the sink for 20 seconds.)

If you’re always on the go, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also effective at stopping the spread of germs.

Interesting fact: Viruses can live on hard surfaces like doorknobs, countertops and railings for up to 48 hours, so it’s best to avoid touching these, if possible. You should also keep surfaces in your home clean and disinfected with household disinfectants.

3. Boost Your Immune System

Another way you can help prevent from getting the flu is through maintaining a strong immune system. When you boost immunities in your body, you make it easier to fight off viruses like influenza.

Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting a good night’s sleep, and exercising regularly can work wonders, and not only for cold and flu prevention but also for your overall health.

Interesting fact: Individuals who smoke are at an increased risk with the flu. Research from Yale School of Medicine shows that smokers’ immune systems overact to the seasonal influenza virus. It’s just another reason to quit.

4. Ensure There’s a Plan in Place

If you work outside of the home, it’s likely you spend more time in the office than not. It’s important to know your employer’s plan should a flu outbreak occur. You should also avoid close contact with anyone showing flu symptoms, and keep a supply of hand sanitizer and desk cleaner nearby.  

The same holds true for your child’s school. Check with school administrators about flu precautions and protocols.

Interesting fact: To prevent from spreading the flu, you should stay home from work or school with the flu. The CDC recommends you avoid public places for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides.

 

If you do find yourself with a sore throat, cough, chills, and aches, visit the GoHealth Urgent Care center in your neighborhood. Our team of healthcare providers and medical staff offers rapid flu tests, so it’ll take approximately 15 minutes to determine if you have the flu. Then, we can get you on the mend, faster.

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