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6 things to know about flu season this year

This flu season, like any other, your best line of defense is to get the flu vaccine.
Credit: Unsplash.com

(Sponsored Content from Baylor Scott & White Health)

6 things to know about flu season this year

It’s everyone’s least favorite part of the fall and winter seasons — the flu. As temperatures finally start to drop, the highly contagious influenza makes its dreaded annual appearance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9-45 million illnesses and between 12-61,000 deaths every year since 2010.

As much of the world’s attention is fixed on COVID-19 this year, let’s not forget about the dangers of the flu. Here’s what you need to know to keep you and your loved ones healthy this flu season.

  • Getting a flu shot is more important than ever. 

This flu season, like any other, your best line of defense is to get the flu vaccine and get it as early as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over six months of age get a flu vaccination every season, with few exceptions.

With COVID-19 also active in many communities this year, getting a flu shot is especially important. We may not have a COVID-19 vaccine, but we do have a flu vaccine.

  • The flu and COVID-19 share similar symptoms.

Both COVID-19 and the flu can cause symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose, fatigue, sore throat, headache and body aches. One symptom that does set COVID-19 apart is loss of taste and/or smell.

“The only way that we can tell the difference is by getting tested for both COVID-19 and the flu,” said Tresa McNeal, MD, internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple. “This makes it especially important to monitor ourselves and our children for symptoms of illness each day.”

If you or a family member begin to experience symptoms of the flu or COVID-19, talk to your doctor and access the COVID-19 screening available via MyBSWHealth.

  • Some people are at greater risk.

Although anyone can get the flu and potentially face complications, certain groups are known to be at higher risk, including children under the age of five, adults more than 50 years of age, women who are or will be pregnant during flu season, people with chronic medical conditions and the morbidly obese.

It’s important to know your own risk level and the risk level of those close to you. If you or a loved one falls into one of these high-risk populations, prioritize getting the flu shot as soon as possible, and talk to your doctor about ways to stay safe and healthy throughout flu season.

  • Most people can rest and recover at home.

Although the flu can lead to complications, the vast majority of people can make a full recovery at home. If you do find yourself or a family member under the weather with the flu, here’s what to do: rest, drink fluids, eat a healthy diet, take medication as needed and directed, and be patient. Stay home until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours.

However, if you are considered high risk for any reason, contact your doctor immediately. It may be necessary to treat the virus with an antiviral medication. Your doctor can also help keep an eye on your symptoms to watch for any signs of emergency.

  • Flu season is longer than you think.

In the U.S., flu activity typically begins in October and peaks between December and February. However, you might be surprised to learn that flu season can last as late as May. The good news is that getting your flu shot now can help protect you and your loved ones all flu season long.

  • You can help protect those around you.

Maybe you’re not worried about catching the flu yourself, but what about those around you? Your family and friends, neighbors and coworkers? The truth is, getting the flu shot doesn’t just help protect you — it helps protect all of us.

Thanks to a concept called herd immunity, when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated, it provides some level of protection for the population as a whole.

“When a high percentage of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, like the flu, most members of the community are protected because there is little opportunity for an outbreak to occur,” said John Joseph II, MD, a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Clinic – Killeen. “Even individuals who are unable to get the vaccine receive some protection since the spread of the contagious disease is contained.”

Visit BSWHealth.com for more information on flu season and vaccinations.

(Sponsored Content from Baylor Scott & White Health)

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