Noting an increase in influenza activity across the nation, health officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced the beginning of the 2019 – 2020 flu season on December 5th.
While this is the earliest flu season announcement in 15 years, there are still plenty of ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. Read on to learn more!
Who is at risk?
Catching the flu is an unpleasant experience at any age, but most healthy adults will recover from their symptoms with few complications. However, older adults, infants and those with compromised immune systems, heart or lung conditions are susceptible to flu-related complications that hospitalize approximately 200,000 Americans every year, according to the CDC.
Immunization is Critical
Scientists work year-round to try and predict what specific strains of the influenza virus will be most prevalent, and use that data to develop vaccines that will counter these chosen versions of the virus. As a result, vaccines are not considered a guarantee against contracting the flu, but they remain the best, most reliable way to protect yourself and others.
The CDC recommends everyone six months and older who does not have an egg or mercury allergy, and has not had a negative reaction to past flu vaccinations receives a flu vaccine every year.
Even though most healthy individuals can overcome the flu with few complications, receiving the vaccine helps protect those more vulnerable to the flu by lowering the number of carriers in the population.
Flu Vaccine Facts
- The vaccine can take up to two weeks to become fully active in your body, so get vaccinated asap!
- Some patients will feel minor flu symptoms for a few days after receiving the vaccine.
- Even if the patient encounters a flu strain not covered by their flu shot, most patients report being sick for a shorter period of time if vaccinated.
- There are now four different US Food and Drug Administration-approved ways to receive the flu shot this year (standard, high dose, intradermal and nasal spray), all of which are meant for different types of people – your local medical provider can help you determine which is best for your needs.
- Flu vaccines are readily available at pharmacies, urgent care clinics and medical offices at little or no cost.
Preventing the Spread of the Flu
While the #1 way to prevent the spread of the flu is getting immunized, there are other good habits you can develop to avoid getting yourself or others around you sick.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, when coming in from a public place and using the bathroom. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds to be effective!
- If you are sick, stay home and avoid close contact with others. “Toughing out” the flu and remaining active among others spreads the flu to those around you, including those for whom the flu might have serious medical consequences.
Flu Season and In-Home Health Care
Because we work closely with individuals susceptible to the worst symptoms of the flu who may not be able to receive a vaccine, SelectCare makes flu season safety a top priority.
In New York State, home caregivers are required to present annual proof of vaccination, or if they are unwilling or unable to receive the vaccine, must wear a face shield while in the client’s home.
SelectCare protects our caregivers and clients by making flu vaccines available for free to all field staff members and administrators alike, as well as provide caregivers with ongoing education about preventing the spread of the flu through our winter in-service program. Combined, these efforts allow our agency to exceed the statewide vaccination rate and better serve our clients.
SelectCare hopes you found this information about the upcoming flu season helpful in guiding your choices about how you can protect yourself and others this winter. SelectCare has helped New York families overcome challenges great and small for more than 30 years, giving our clients opportunities to lead happier, healthier lives in their long-time homes.