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How Can I Reduce My Risk for Flu this Year?


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The Flu - Everyday Preventative Recommendations and Flu Shot Facts

When is Flu Season?

While generally considered to start in Fall and end in Winter. We're in November and heading into the peak flu activity period (December into February and sometimes March), but it's not too late to reduce your risk for the flu this year.

How can I Reduce My Risk for Flu this Year?

Everyday Preventative Recommendations from the CDC

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with other people - even if you have mild symptoms, someone could get sick and have a more severe reaction
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue - throw the tissue away afterwards
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces and objects
  • Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress can all help too

Flu Shots - True or False? 

"The flu vaccine can give you the flu." 
FALSE 
Per the CDC, flu vaccines cannot give you the flu. Vaccines are made with either inactivated (dead) viruses or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are weakened so that they won't cause illness. 
Serious allergic reactions are rare and usually occur within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine. The most common side effects from flu shots are soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches may also occur, but they usually begin soon after the vaccination and last 1-2 days. Compare these side effects to the potential effects of actually getting the flu. 
 
You can always talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have when it comes to the flu, the flu shot, and any risks you may have. 
 
"It's better to get sick with the flu than to get the flu vaccine." 
FALSE
The flu affects millions of people every year. While most recover in less than 2 weeks, it can lead to more serious conditions and complications, especially for high risk individuals including,: 
  • Adults 65 years or older
  • Children younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than 2
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after pregnancy end
  • People with certain chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lunch disease

Flu-related complications can range from sinus and ear infections to pneumonia or inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues. Flu-related illnesses result in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths every year. Anyone can get sick from the flu, and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age. 

"You should get a flu vaccine every year." 
TRUE

Everyone ages 6 months and older should get an annual flu shot. Our immune protection declines over time, and the vaccine is reviewed every year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick. 

"Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever." 
TRUE

Getting the flu vaccine will not prevent Covid-19, but you can help reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths on the health care system. Getting a flu shot can help you protect yourself and others around you. 

While the flu shot isn't a guarantee against the flu, it can help reduce your chances of getting the flu, especially when the previously mentioned preventative measures are followed.

 

Will My Insurance Cover the Flu Shot? 

Most health plans, including employer, marketplace, and Medicaid plans, cover the flu. You may want to see if your insurance company requires you to go to a specific doctor or facility. 
 

Will My Flu Shot be Covered if I'm Medicare?

You pay nothing if your doctor or qualified health care provider accepts assignment for giving the shot. 
 

What are the Main Flu Symptoms?

Flu usually comes on suddenly and symptoms often include: 

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea
 

Where can I get a Flu Shot? 

You can check with your general practitioner or even at the local pharmacy to see if they offer the flu shot. Just make sure your insurance doesn't require you to go somewhere specific. 
 

Conclusion

While a foolproof protection against the flu isn't quite a reality, we can do plenty to reduce our risk and help protect those around us. It's not too late to get your flu shot! 


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