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Get yourself ready for flu season

Flu season is here and being prepared for the season and getting your flu shot is more important than ever. Taking precautions could help decrease its potential impact, but there is no way to predict who will and won’t be impacted. Here’s a few steps you can take to prepare: 

Stock up on supplies

Now’s the time to make sure you have everything you need in case you or someone in your family gets sick. Cold medicines, pain relievers, a thermometer and tissues are all must haves. The flu can come on quickly and, by having medicines on hand, you can get right to bed at the first sign of symptoms.

Staples like broth, soup, juice and sports drinks can help you bounce back if you catch the flu. And if there are any comfort foods (hello ginger ale and saltines) you like to have when you’re sick, make sure you have extras in the pantry.

Clean up your act (and your house)

  • The best way to decrease your chances of getting the flu is to keep those little flu germs away before they make you sick. And we’re sorry to say those germs are lurking everywhere. Here are some ways to keep those germs at bay:
  • Use disinfectant wipes on doorknobs, phones and remote controls, as well as surfaces in kitchen and bathroom areas. Keep a supply at work, and wipe things down at least once per day.
  • Wash your hands often and, if water is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel. Clean hands can stop the spread of the flu virus.
  • If someone in your house has the flu, try to keep them in their own space. Use disinfecting wipes and sprays in and around the isolated person’s room.
  • Remove and wash plates, silverware and soiled laundry regularly. A germy plate in the sink can infect an entire family. Be sure to wash dishes and laundry in hot water and use high heat when drying.

Boost your immunity  

Your chances of catching the flu increase when your resistance is down. If you don’t have the flu now, you can protect yourself by boosting your immune system. Eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, take vitamins, drink plenty of water and try to avoid stress (easier said than done, right?). If you have any chronic conditions, check with your doctor to be sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your health.

Get a flu shot

Talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot. Every year, flu shots provide protection against the most recent strains of flu. While it won’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, a flu shot will give you extra protection against some strains.

Some basic facts about the flu shot:

  • You can’t get the flu from the flu shot
  • You need a flu shot every year because the strains of flu change each season.
  • There are different kinds of flu shots for kids and adults, each with different dosages.

Talk to your provider about these important exceptions:

  • If you are suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19, CDC recommends postponing vaccination until you have met the criteria to discontinue your isolation
  • If you have egg allergies, severe allergies, or any previous reactions to the vaccine
  • If you aren't feeling well, they may ask you to come back later
  • If you ever had Guillan-Barre Syndrome (also called GBS)
  • If you have any concerns or questions about the vaccine.

Where to get your flu shot

Become a temporary introvert

Here’s a sobering fact: A cough or sneeze can spread flu germs to almost everyone in a room. During flu season, make sure you put a little bit more distance between you and others to minimize the spread of germs. It’s okay to avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing in any social setting.  

Try to keep your distance from other people in public places, such the line at the supermarket or on public transportation. Here’s a pro tip: Bring disinfectant wipes to the supermarket to clean off grocery cart handles and baskets.

Also, consider cutting back on eating out and even ordering takeout. There are many steps to preparing food that we never see. One sick person coming in contact with your food during the process can make you sick.

Preparation and prevention can help minimize the chances of you or your family members catching the flu. Some extra cleaning and few changes in your daily habits can go a long way toward protecting yourself during flu season. And remember, it’s only temporary.

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This material provides a general overview of the topic. Health information is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a therapist, physician or other health care professional. Contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs.