5 reasons it's still important to get your flu shot
(BPT) - As our country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of the pandemic will become more complicated by increasing cases of the flu, making more people ill and putting further strain on the U.S. health care system.
Pediatric epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Dr. Emily Godbout from Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU offers five crucial reasons everyone should get a flu shot this year.
1. Flu shots help reduce serious respiratory illness
While some people who get vaccinated may still contract influenza, the flu shot typically prevents about 70 of 100 people who receive it from developing a moderate to severe flu infection. So even though the vaccine might not completely prevent the flu, it can help keep you from getting sick enough that you have to go to the hospital.
“Reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is really important to help protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease,” said Godbout, “And it also helps lessen the resulting burden on our health care system, which is crucial throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Godbout said that while practices people follow to help guard against COVID-19, such as handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks, will probably help decrease the spread of influenza, the flu shot is still the single most effective way to reduce the spread of the flu.
2. Flu shots are safe
“The flu shot is very safe and effective at helping prevent severe disease and hospitalization,” Godbout said. “I know people might have reservations about coming into the doctor’s office, but I can assure everyone that our providers are really vigilant about taking appropriate precautions to make sure everyone is safe.”
The doctor also pointed out that patients will not contract influenza from the vaccine. “The virus is inactivated,” she said, “so it can’t actually cause the flu infection after you get the shot.”
Flu shots are recommended for anyone six months old and older.
3. Flu shots are updated every year
“The U.S. flu vaccine is reviewed every single year and updated to match circulating flu viruses,” said Godbout. “The flu vaccine can typically protect against three or four different viruses. Since the virus changes from year to year, immunization or natural infection from the previous year is not protective."
She also said that our antibody response — what helps us fight the virus — can decrease over time, so a yearly dose will help boost the antibody response before the start of the influenza season.
4. Influenza and COVID-19 share some overlapping symptoms
It’s important to know that some symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are similar. If you have symptoms you are concerned about, it’s best to call your health care provider right away. You may need to be tested for both the flu and COVID-19 to be certain what is causing you to be sick, so your doctor can recommend the best course of treatment.
While having the flu shot doesn't mean you can't get the flu, as discussed above, a vaccination will at least lessen the severity of your symptoms — giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Reducing the spread of flu cases overall, by getting vaccinated, will help cut down on the number of seriously ill patients that clinics and hospitals need to diagnose and treat, which will help everyone get through the winter season more easily.
5. A flu shot protects you throughout the season
Now is a good time to get vaccinated. It takes a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop in your body, but the vaccination will continue to protect you throughout the worst months of the flu season.
Godbout said, "We will continue to offer the flu shot throughout the fall and winter."
For the latest on flu and COVID-19, visit vcuhealth.org.
Even a mild case of the flu or a powerful cold can leave you feeling run down and out of sorts for days or even weeks. While many ailments must simply run their course, there are many steps you can take to fight your way back to good health. Learn how to beat back a cold or the flu by reading the full Medium article here.
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems.
(BPT) - “I’m not the same person. The person before just kind of took life for granted. And now I cherish every moment I have because I know it can be taken away very quickly.”
Lisa Pellerin, a mother and a nurse, shared these words as she recounted an experience so devastating to her health that it changed her entire perspective on life. It wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t a heart attack.
It was the flu.
Surprisingly, the flu is a source of worry for only 8 percent of adults 50 years of age and older, according to a recent survey. And, even if they were to get the flu, the majority (80 percent) only saw themselves as being at average or below average risk for flu-related complications. For some, these misperceptions could be dangerous.
Adults 50 years of age and older are more likely than younger age groups to have a chronic illness, such as asthma or other lung disease, heart disease or diabetes. Flu can exacerbate symptoms of these conditions and lead to serious complications, like pneumonia – or sometimes even death.
Flu and chronic health conditions
According to the CDC, about 70 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have at least one chronic illness. Lisa is among this group, living with both asthma and diabetes. All it took was one day for the flu to land her in the hospital. “I just kept getting worse. I was in the hospital for three weeks. Everyone thought I was going to die,” she said. Lisa continues to struggle with shortness of breath and a persistent cough, but she’s grateful to be alive.
After receiving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, Jim Piette still enjoyed fishing, hunting and woodworking – until he got the flu. “Now, I’m on oxygen 24/7,” he said. “I can’t do much without running out of air.” After a year and a half, Jim still hasn’t been able to resume all his usual activities.
Take the precaution: Get the shot
Vaccination is the best way to help protect people, including older adults, from the flu and help reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death. That’s why the American Lung Association created the MyShot campaign in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur. The campaign helps educate adults 50 years of age and older about the potential dangers of flu and the critical importance of getting a flu shot every year.
The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October each year. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial and vaccination continues to be offered throughout flu season.
For adults, it’s important to know that there are multiple options depending on your age and whether you have one or more chronic health conditions. A doctor can advise which option may be right for each individual, taking into consideration age and other factors such as chronic health conditions.
It’s not about one person – it’s about everyone in your life
Flu vaccination helps protect more than just the people who receive them – they help prevent the spread of influenza to their family, friends, colleagues and communities, and especially those more vulnerable to the flu such as infants and young children and those with weakened immune systems. JoJo O’Neal’s bout with the flu turned into a family issue, infecting not only JoJo, but her sister who has COPD, and her niece. “I started to realize my health decisions can impact others,” she said. Now, she does everything she can to help protect herself and others from the flu, which always includes getting her annual flu vaccination.
If you or someone you love is 50 years of age or older, go to GetMyShot.org to learn more and speak with your healthcare provider about flu vaccine options that may be right for you.
As temperatures drop, the spread of cold and flu germs rises. Start the year off healthy and be sure to rid your home of lingering germs that may be hiding in places you don’t expect. These tips can help you prevent the spread of germs.
6 Ways to Fight the Flu
(Family Features) As temperatures drop, the spread of cold and flu germs rises. Start the year off healthy and be sure to rid your home of lingering germs that may be hiding in places you don’t expect.
“I always recommend the flu shot – especially when officials are predicting a harsh flu season like this year – good nutrition and plenty of sleep, but there are other healthy habits we can all develop to help keep ourselves and those around us stay healthy during cold and flu season,” said Dr. Tanya Altmann, pediatrician, best-selling author and founder of Calabasas Pediatrics. “Vaccination is important, but there are other preventative measures that we should all keep in mind.”
These tips from the experts at Clorox can help you prevent the spread of germs:
Learn more about flu prevention at Clorox.com/FluFOMO.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(BPT) - You hear about it on the news. You see the signs in the pharmacy windows. Even your friends and co-workers are talking about it. The flu shot is a highly discussed topic, and for good reason!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population — or up to 64.6 million people — gets the flu, and tens of thousands of people are hospitalized every year because of it. Further, the flu can strike anyone, and adults aged 18-64 years old are the most likely to get ill, accounting for 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations. This number goes up in certain areas, and some states — such as Texas, Florida and California — tend to be hit harder by the flu than others.
“Flu-related illnesses are already trending twice as high in 2017 as they were in 2016, and we are seeing an uptick in flu-related visits across the country,” said Dr. Jason Tibbels, MD, board-certified family physician and director for quality programs at Teladoc, the largest and most trusted telehealth provider in the world. “This year, officials want at least 70 percent of Americans to get a flu shot; however, fewer than 50 percent were vaccinated against the flu last season.”
How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from the annual flu outbreak? The first step is to understand the benefits and any potential risks of flu vaccination and then — if it’s right for you — go get the flu shot.
It’s also important to understand that while the vaccine is the best defense in protecting against flu, there’s still a chance that with it, you could get sick. If you do start to experience symptoms, telehealth is an on-demand, anytime, anywhere resource. This means you can access hassle-free medical care from your home during the middle of the night, from your college dorm room, while at the airport for an early morning business trip, and anywhere else you have access to a phone, a mobile app or the web. A telemedicine doctor can assess your symptoms before they worsen. Visit Teladoc.com/flu to learn more about the telehealth benefits that may be available to you to access care when and where you need it.
We asked Teladoc’s Dr. Tibbels why the flu shot is so important this year. Here are his top reasons:
1) It keeps you out of the emergency room. The flu shot reduces the risk of hospitalization due to flu by approximately 50 to 60 percent.
2) It reduces sick days. Missed time at work due to flu-related illnesses causes an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually.
3) It promotes overall health. The flu vaccine is a helpful tool for people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccination is associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, and is also proven to have reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease. Further, vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy, reducing the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection by about 50 percent. And getting vaccinated also protects the baby several months after birth.
4) If you do get sick, it may decrease the severity. The flu vaccination does not guarantee protection against the virus; people who get the shot are still at risk of getting sick. However, if you do get sick, the flu vaccination can make your illness milder. If you start to experience symptoms — whether or not you’ve had the flu vaccine — it’s important to see a doctor. Many people have 24-hour access to board-certified and licensed physicians seven days a week via telemedicine from home, work or on the road through a phone or tablet, making it easier than ever to get a diagnosis and start treatment.
5) It helps stop flu from spreading. Did you know that the flu virus can be spread to people within three feet of a sick patient when that patient coughs, sneezes or talks? Getting vaccinated doesn’t just help protect you from the flu; the flu shot is the responsible choice for protecting those around you. Vaccination is especially important for protecting more vulnerable populations, such as babies and young children, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
“When it comes to the flu, it’s not wise to take a wait-and-see approach,” said Dr. Tibbels. “Talk to a doctor! We’re available all day, every day, all through flu season and beyond.”
To learn more about Teladoc and the level of flu risk where you live, visit Teladoc.com/flu.
Colder weather and cold and flu season go hand-in-hand. While you may not be able to completely avoid getting sick, you can take some steps to protect yourself and minimize the chances of a serious illness.
Fight Off the Flu
(Family Features) Colder weather and cold and flu season go hand-in-hand. While you may not be able to completely avoid getting sick, you can take some steps to protect yourself and minimize the chances of a serious illness.
The flu is a highly contagious illness that can result in hospitalization and even death. Managing your own risk of exposure to the flu not only protects you, but can help minimize the chances of passing on a potentially dangerous illness to those in higher risk groups. Those with compromised immune systems and risk factors such as age (both the elderly and young babies and children) and other health conditions are at an elevated risk.
Know the signs
Other preventive steps
Treating the flu
Find more cold weather tips for healthy living at eLivingToday.com.
4 Ways to Stretch Your Health Benefits
Avoid surprises. About 91 percent of adults in the United States are confused about what their benefits cover, according to a recent Harris poll. The best starting point is to review your plan so you understand the care and services covered. If you have a high-deductible plan, you will need to pay for most or a percentage of the health costs until reaching the individual or family deductible. Be prepared to pay any copayments or deductibles the plan requires before receiving care. Also, before scheduling appointments, ask for a cost estimate for the appointment, tests or service.
Preventive dental and vision. Many voluntary plans, such as dental and vision, offer preventive exams, such as routine cleanings and vision exams, that are fully covered. That’s because these preventive exams help to maintain and improve overall health and help reduce health costs. Voluntary coverage is affordable and many plans offer added incentives. For example, coverage for LASIK, dental, vision and hearing benefits can increase from one year to the next for those who continue to enroll and use their benefits. Members could earn monetary rewards to use for dental, vision, LASIK, orthodontia and hearing benefits, care materials and services simply by using their benefits and keeping the benefits paid out under a specified amount.
Medical screenings. Routine health screenings, such as mammograms, immunizations, colonoscopy procedures and prostate cancer screenings, which may be covered fully or in part by your medical coverage, can help you stay healthy and lower health care costs.
Get paid to save. Many employers encourage employees to save money by matching a percentage of the amount the employee contributes to the plan. If available, enroll in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account to set aside money to pay for health care costs.
Learn more about the questions to ask when reviewing benefit plans at ameritasinsight.com.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Being sick isn’t fun, but missing out on family vacations or parties for the big game because you are sick is even worse. Getting a flu shot, washing your hands frequently and disinfecting hard surfaces are just a few things you can do to avoid getting sick.
Don’t Miss Out this Cold and Flu Season
Getting a flu shot, washing your hands frequently and disinfecting hard surfaces are just a few things you can do to avoid getting sick. Additionally, Clorox partnered with epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Morse, a professor at Columbia University, to share some basics about the flu virus.
What is the Flu Virus?
Most people who get the flu virus tend to recover within a few days to two weeks, barring any complications. Anyone can get the flu virus, but young children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older and people with lung disease or weakened immune systems tend to be more susceptible to more severe or longer-lasting symptoms.
Flu v. Cold
Cold and Flu Prevention Tips
Missing out is never fun, so help stop the spread of germs and protect yourself this flu season. Learn more about disinfecting hard surfaces at Clorox.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
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