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Flu vaccine: The key to preparing for flu season like a pro

Flu vaccine: The key to preparing for flu season like a pro

In New Orleans, we prepare for all sorts of things, from family brunches and parades with our krewe to summer heat and hurricanes. It’s important to apply that same spirit of preparation to your health, especially as fall arrives. Take time on national Get Ready Day on Sept. 19 to make a flu season preparedness plan. Be sure it includes the most effective step you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick from the flu: Get the flu vaccine at your East Jefferson General Hospital healthcare provider’s office or your local pharmacy.

Your day to prepare

Need a reminder to prepare for flu season? Mark your calendar for Get Ready Day on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Part of a campaign by the American Public Health Association, Get Ready Day launched in 2006 and is observed annually on the third Tuesday of September. Get Ready Day reminds Americans to prepare for emergencies, natural disasters and public health threats, including the flu.

Practice flu season preparedness by:

  • Getting the flu vaccine or making an appointment to do so
  • Reviewing hygiene best practices that help stop the spread of flu
  • Showing your children the correct way to wash their hands and practicing together

4 facts to know about the flu vaccine

The most important thing you can do to protect against the flu is get the flu vaccine every year. That’s been the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for nearly everyone 6 months or older for over a decade. In fact, an annual flu vaccine is one of several immunizations recommended for adults. Here are four key facts about the vaccine:

  1. It’s especially important for people in high-risk categories to get flu shots. Some people are at high risk for flu complications. These include pregnant women, people age 65 and older, and people with certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
  2. Several types of flu shots are available. These include a high-dose flu vaccine for people 65 and older. This vaccine prompts a stronger immune response from the body than standard-dose flu shots to help protect high-risk older adults.
  3. The flu vaccine changes every year. It’s made to protect against the flu viruses expected to be circulating most widely during the upcoming flu season.
  4. Vaccine side effects are common. Your arm may be sore, or you may develop a mild headache, fever or muscle aches. Allergic reactions after flu vaccination are rare.

Beyond the flu vaccine: More ways to reduce your flu risk

Getting a flu shot is the No. 1 form of flu prevention, and you can supplement it by taking additional steps to reduce your risk of getting and spreading the flu, including:

  • Avoid spending time around people who are sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth to help stop germs from entering your body.
  • Disinfect countertops, doorknobs, your phone, and other items and surfaces you touch daily.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

Be gone, flu

Vaccination doesn’t guarantee you’ll avoid the flu, but it reduces your risk of severe illness if you get infected. If you come down with the flu, following commonsense self-care steps may help you get over the infection as quickly as possible. Be sure to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and treat symptoms, such as muscle aches, with over-the-counter medications.

If you’re at high risk for flu complications or have severe symptoms, see your primary care provider quickly. They can prescribe flu antiviral medications to fight the infection, which are most effective if you start them soon after symptoms appear.

Ready to get your flu vaccine? Make an appointment with an East Jefferson General Hospital primary care provider.