The flu is common and usually only a mild illness, but it can be serious for some. As we get close to flu season, it is important to recognize that the flu causes many hospitalizations each year and sometimes death. In addition to illness, people frequently miss work or school because they are sick or have to care for a sick family member, causing them to miss out on wages and/or valuable information. The flu vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and others from illness. Additionally, there are many actions you can take to help stop the spread of germs that cause the flu.
Wash your hands regularly
Practicing good hand hygiene plays an important role in keeping you healthy. The CDC recommends scrubbing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. A great way to keep track is by humming the “Happy Birthday” song two times.
When to wash your hands:
- After using the restroom
- Before, during and after preparing food
- Before and after eating
- After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
- After touching high-touch surfaces such as door handles, shopping carts, gas pumps, card readers, etc.
Never touch your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. This allows germs to enter the body and potentially cause you to get sick.
Avoid contact with sick people
The flu mainly spreads by droplets produced when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets, called respiratory droplets, can cause illness when inhaled by another person. As a result, it is important to minimize contact with sick people. The CDC recommends maintaining at least six feet of distance between a sick person and yourself.
Another way to avoid spreading the flu virus is to stay home and away from others when you are sick. When possible, stay home from work or school and avoid running errands when you feel ill. If you are unable to stay home or away from others, practice good hygiene and healthy habits, including:
- Covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- Washing your hands and disinfecting frequently.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth.
The seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the virus. While no vaccine can protect 100% from illness, they still play an important role in reducing symptoms and lowering the risk of hospitalization and death. HealthLinc offers the annual flu shot at no cost to insured and uninsured patients during an office visit. The flu vaccine costs $25 for uninsured patients without an office visit. You can schedule an appointment by calling 1-888-580-1060.
Frequently asked questions
Who should get vaccinated?
Everyone older than six months should get the flu vaccine, especially people in high-risk groups. High-risk groups include children under two years old, individuals 65 and older and those with chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma and heart disease. Protecting individuals in these high-risk groups include vaccinating everyone in their environment, so transmission to others is limited.
When should I get vaccinated?
The best time to get the vaccine is before the flu season begins. It is recommended that you get your flu shot in September or October before the flu season. This helps to protect you when the season starts to peak.
Do I need to get a flu vaccine every year?
Yes, your protection from the flu vaccine lessens throughout the year, so a yearly vaccine is needed to maximize its effectiveness and protection. Additionally, the flu viruses are always changing, and the vaccines are renewed yearly to help protect against the newest version of the virus. For the best protection against the flu, everyone six months and older should receive the flu vaccine every year.
Does the vaccine work right away?
No, it takes about two weeks for the antibodies from the vaccine to develop and provide protection against infection. This is why it’s recommended to get the flu vaccine before the start of the flu season.
What are the side effects of getting the flu vaccine?
While the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, you may experience side effects after receiving your vaccine. These side effects are minor and can include soreness or redness in the area where the shot was given, headache, fever, muscle ache, nausea or fatigue.
What are the benefits of the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. When you or a loved one is sick, it can prevent you from attending school or work and keep you from participating in fun and/or important events like birthday parties, holiday celebrations, concerts and more. The flu vaccine also helps to reduce flu-associated hospitalization, acts as an important preventative tool for people with chronic health conditions, helps people during and after pregnancy and is proven to be lifesaving in children.