Defend yourself from the seasonal flu with a preventive vaccine
Flu season is here and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round, flu activity in the U.S. begins to increase in October and November and typically peaks between December and February.
The CDC asserts that a flu shot is the most effective protection against the seasonal virus, and recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. Controlling the spread of the flu, the CDC says, can help reserve healthcare resources needed to treat those with COVID-19.
“We’re highly recommending people get their flu shot—probably more this year than ever before,” said Dr. Amy Johnson, a nurse practitioner with Centra Medical Group, farmer and Bedford County Farm Bureau president.
“If a person were to get the flu, it really creates havoc on their immune system and makes them susceptible to other illnesses several weeks after,” she added. “The general feeling is that if someone had the flu, they’d be susceptible to getting COVID-19, so getting the flu shot is very important.”
Johnson said it typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to produce the antibodies needed to protect against the seasonal flu. Because of the slight delay, she advises patients get their flu shots in October or soon thereafter before flu activity begins to ramp up.
In addition to minimizing flu-related illness, vaccines can reduce flu-related hospitalizations and the severity of illness among those who contract the virus despite vaccination. Additional health benefits can be found online.
Many health insurance plans provide 100% coverage for the flu vaccine. Check with your health care provider or health insurance company for more information.
To learn more about the flu, visit the CDC website.
Limiting the spread of the flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following suggestions to prevent the spread of germs:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it away, and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often, using soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
- Take antiviral drugs as prescribed by your doctor.