Protect Yourself From The Flu This Season
by Stuart Mapes
It’s not just you—this flu season is more serious than it has been in the last couple of years, and it will likely get worse until this spring. The flu can be particularly dangerous for the elderly. Not only are people 65 and older more likely to be infected by the flu, but the risk for complications such as pneumonia increases. Here are a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to arm yourself against the flu so that you can stay healthy this season.
The best defense against the flu is the vaccine. Being vaccinated is a must, and it’s not too late. The vaccine will work throughout the flu season, so if you have not already been vaccinated, be sure to do so as soon as possible at a doctor’s office, health clinic, or pharmacy.
Even if you have already been sick this year, take the vaccine anyway. The vaccine will protect against multiple variations of flu, so stay on the safe side by taking it.
Even if you were vaccinated last year, it is important to take this year’s vaccine. Flu viruses change each year, and each year’s vaccine only defends you from that year’s flu variations. Although you should only have to be vaccinated once a year, be sure that you are vaccinated at least annually, preferably in September or October.
Also, if you have a home health caregiver, find out if he or she has been vaccinated. If your caregiver has been infected, there is a high risk that he or she may also infect you. If he or she has not been vaccinated, request that he or she do so immediately.
Nurses, attendants, and other employees of retirement centers and skilled nursing facilities have likely been vaccinated.
Seniors who have the flu are at higher risk of getting other serious respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. If you get sick, talk to your doctor or pharmacy professional about antiviral drugs. These drugs, different from the flu vaccine, help lower the risk of being infected by another serious disease as a result of the flu.
Lastly, wash your hands often, and keep your home or apartment clean by disinfecting surfaces that you touch regularly. If you have a friend or relative who is sick, try to avoid visiting with him or her at least until the symptoms stop.