It’s not technically flu season yet, but, according to a recent Time Health article, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta reports that it’s not too early to begin planning to get a flu shot. In fact, according to the CDC, all adults and babies should get a flu shot by no later than the end of October.
Although the flu shot is still effective when it’s given later in the year, many professional medical sources say that people will get the highest level of protection if they get the shot before flu season is in peak season—late fall or winter.
The flu shot is not fool proof, by any means, but, according to the CDC, last year the flu shot provided nearly 36% effectiveness against the flu. Not only does it lower the spread of the disease, the shot can also lessen the severity of symptoms in those who receive it.
For the 2018/2019 flu season, the CDC says the flu vaccine—available in a shot and a nasal spray—has been developed to target the specific viruses, anticipated this year.
Last year over 30,000 people were hospitalized and over 180 children died because of the flu—it was a particularly harsh flu season. In fact, the CDC reported that this was the worst pandemic since the CDC began tracking pediatric deaths back in 2004.
While there is no way to predict what this year has in store for us, when it comes to the severity of flu season, the CDC recommends vaccination, now because once flu season starts, the vaccine will not be as effective.
Other methods to prevent the spread of the flu (other than the vaccine) include:
- Meticulous (and frequent) handwashing with soap and hot water
- Staying home whenever possible during flu season
- Refraining from going out in public when sick with the flu (to prevent the spread of the virus)
- Taking antiviral drugs such as Rapivab (peramivir), Relenza (zanamivir), Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate), if the influenza is contracted (these are prescription drugs)
- Use an alcohol-based sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, except when necessary, this is how the flu is spread
- Avoid crowded areas (such as airports) once flu season starts
- Practice effective health habits
- Avoid sharing utensils, drinking or eating after others (even your own family members)
- At work, sanitize any commonly used phone before talking on it
- Get plenty of sleep each night (approximately 8 hours)
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids
- Eat a healthy diet, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Manage your stress level by working out, meditating, or engaging in other relaxation promoting activities or techniques
There’s nothing more important than our health and well-being and as we age, so too does our immune system-making seniors more susceptible to getting the flu than younger adults. Avoiding the flu is an important health strategy, particularly for those who plan to live past 100 well. It takes some advanced planning, and quite a bit of self-discipline and follow through, but, in the end, it’s worth it.