As the seasons have changed and soon fall will turn into winter, it is important that we not only protect ourselves from colds but also the much-dreaded flu. Scientifically named, “Influenza” is not only contagious but has the potential to be a very serious illness. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and in extreme cases can lead to hospitalization or in the worst cases, death.
So how do we protect ourselves? First things first, it is imperative we practice excellent (not fair, mediocre or even good) but Excellent hygiene. Germs are everywhere, and unfortunately, we cannot hide in a bubble for the rest of our lives, but that is okay if we take the necessary precautions you can protect yourself. Always wash your hands, after using the restroom, before you eat, and after coming indoors. If you can’t use a tissue, using hand sanitizer after opening public doors or touching public items such as a gas pump or the milk and sugar containers at Starbucks. Remember, assume people do not protect themselves from germs so it is up to you!
Now let’s talk about this flu shot. It is recommended that everyone ages 6 months and older. Anyone who fits into the category of a high-risk group is at more of a risk for the flu being much more of serious illness than not. High-risk groups include pregnant women, young children, and adults over 65 who have any chronic medical condition.
How exactly does the flu shot work? A new vaccine is developed each year, designed to protect from about 3 or 4 strands of the virus that are predicted to be the most prominent in the upcoming season. After the vaccine is administered, it helps your body to develop antibodies against this strand of the flu. An antibody is simply a blood protein produced in response to a specific antigen (typically a bacteria, virus or foreign substance found in the blood). Upon the contrary belief, the flu shot does not cause the flu. The various virus strands in the flu shot are inactive which helps create an immune response.
Luckily for you, the best time to get a flu shot is the month of October which is NOW! Even if you do not want to take a trip all the way to your primary care physician, thankfully, flu shots are given at so many locations. Pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, or even stores such as Walmart & Target that has pharmacies in them.
Protect yourself this flu season!