Are you prepared for flu season?

The 2017-2018 flu season is defined as a high severity season by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to the high levels of outpatient clinic and ER visits for influenza-like illnesses, along with the high hospitalization rates and widespread flu activity. Public health officials across the U.S. are keeping their fingers crossed we’re not in for another active season this year.

To be prepared for this flu season, CDC recommends getting your vaccine by the end of October. According to District Health Director, William Grow, MD, FACP, once you have received your flu vaccine, it takes approximately two weeks for antibodies to develop in your body. Therefore, you should get the vaccine before the flu virus begins spreading around you.

Flu vaccines in the U.S. are reviewed annually and updated as needed depending on what flu viruses are circulating. The flu vaccines for the 2018-2019 season have been updated to better match the circulating viruses.

  • The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 through 49 years of age. The nasal spray vaccine will not be used for some with certain underlying medical conditions.
  • Standard dose flu shots are available for individuals 18 through 64 years of age.
  • High-dose flu shots are available for individuals 65 years of age and older.

Seasonal flu-viruses can circulate throughout the year; however, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. It is not possible to predict what the flu season will be like according to the CDC’s website. While flu spreads every year, the time, severity, and length of the season varies from one season to another.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, individuals can take preventive actions such as staying home from work or school when ill and washing their hands to prevent the flu. Also, avoid close contact to someone who is sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent spreading germs to those around you.

“By practicing good health habits, such as cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at home, school and work, along with everyday preventive tips, we can keep the flu from spreading in our communities,” says Grow. “Be sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy, manage stress and be physically active, but most importantly…get vaccinated.”