The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting you and your family against contracting flu viruses. It’s not too late to get one.
During COVID we stayed indoors and took precautionary measures that also prevented exposure to the flu and other viruses, like RSV. Now that we’re being less cautious and getting out more, cases of the flu and RSV, along with COVID, are filling hospital beds, especially with the elderly and children.
Everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine this season, even if they had one last year. Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important, in order to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. Vaccination is also important for healthcare workers, and others who live with or care for high-risk people, in order to keep from spreading the flu to them
- young children,
- pregnant women,
- people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease,
- people younger than five years (especially those younger than two),
- and people 65 years and older.
The CDC states: “It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults. It’s estimated that 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people 65 years and older. This is because human immune defenses become weaker with age. So influenza can be a very serious disease for people 65 and older.”
Consider your options
Flu Shot vs. Nasal Spray: Many people choose to get the flu vaccine in mist form each year, rather than having a shot. The flu shot uses an inactivated (dead) version of the flu to stimulate your immune system, while the nasal spray vaccine uses an attenuated (i.e., weakened) live virus, the CDC explains. While both vaccines may cause flu-like side effects, neither vaccine can give you the flu.
The spray is painless and approved for use in healthy people two to 49 years of age, who are not pregnant. Even people who live with or care for those in a high risk group—including healthcare workers—can safely use the spray. This could be helpful for young children or others who are afraid of needles.
The one exception is healthcare workers who care for people with severely weakened immune systems and who require a protected hospital environment; these care givers should get the inactivated flu vaccine (flu shot).
Fluzone High-Dose: An influenza vaccine developed specifically for people 65 years and older, Fluzone High-Dose, contains a higher dose of antigen in the vaccine and gives older people a better immune response and better protection against flu. More information about Fluzone High-Dose is available on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) web site. Talk to your health care provider to decide which one is right for you.
Have a plan for prevention
Follow these simple tips that can help everyone stay well this year:
- Wash your hands often for 20 seconds
- Get a flu shot
- Stay away from others who are sick; stay home if you are sick
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Stay on a regular exercise routine to help keep your immune system strong
- Get plenty of sleep (at least seven to eight hours)
- Eat healthy foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, to help boost your immune system
Where to get the flu vaccine
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools. The easiest place to go may be your local pharmacy. Contact them to see if an appointment is required. For more information on flu immunizations in our area go to Flu Immunizations | Bismarck, ND – Official Website (bismarcknd.gov).
If you are at an increased risk of getting pneumonia, a complication of the flu, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the pneumococcal vaccine to help protect you against pneumonia
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Will Medicare cover my flu vaccine?
- A. Yes, Medicare will cover the flu vaccine once every flu season.
Q. I have the flu, what should I do?
- A. If you develop flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. If you are at high risk for flu-related complications, your healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral medications to help make your symptoms less severe, prevent serious complications and make you feel better faster. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if your flu has progressed to a bacterial infection.
If you have been diagnosed with the flu, you should stay home and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Talk to your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications. They may relieve some flu symptoms but will not make you less contagious.
- Can I treat flu or its symptoms without medication?
- You can treatflu symptomswithout medication by:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated
- Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever
- Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier
- Gargling with salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat
- Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills
Dakota Home Care staff members are taking every precaution to not spread the flu or other viruses to those we visit and care for. If you think someone in your household may have the flu, contact your healthcare provider and let us know before we visit.