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While it’s important to be concerned about COVID, having a vaccine (and getting one) may be a while. Your best bet is to stay socially distanced, wear a mask, and wash your hands often. This winter could be a rough one.

Flu season is right around the corner, so it’s time to get your shot. Just 2 weeks after you get your shot, you’ll be protected from the flu.  Getting a shot is not just for infants and the elderly.  The flu shot is advised for anyone and everyone over the age of 6 months.  This year, there is an option for a shot that covers 4 strains of flu VS 3.  The effectiveness of the live attenuated nasal spray option is questionable, and is therefore no longer advised.

A higher dose vaccine is now available to the elderly as they may not have a strong enough antibody response to the standard vaccine.  It is considered safe for those with egg allergy to get the flu vaccine, but those whom experience symptoms other than hives may need to receive their immunization in a medical office with staff that are able to handle medical emergencies.

People refuse to get a flu shot every year due to the several myths that are perpetuated about flu shots.  Science journalist Tara Haelle has produced an extensive list of all the misguided reasons people skip their shot and put themselves and those around them at risk for the flu. 1

Here are a few:

  • Myth: The flu vaccine gives you the flu or makes you sick.
  • Myth: Pregnant women should not get the flu shot. / The flu shot can cause miscarriages Pregnant women should only get the preservative-free flu shot.
  • Myth: People with egg allergies cannot get the flu shot. It will kill them!
  • Myth: People don’t die from the flu unless they have another underlying condition already.
  • Myth: If I get the flu, antibiotics will take care of me.

If you contracted the flu after getting a flu shot, it’s likely because there are multiple strains of flu.  The shot did not cause your illness. Having flu-like symptoms could also occur, but again is likely due to a different virus that the shot did not cover.  While the shot is not perfect, if you do contract the flu, it would likely be a milder version than if you’d never gotten immunized.

Cost of the vaccine can range from free (at your worksite or free health clinic) or up to $15 at Cosco or other in-store pharmacies.  You can research the cost here: https://20somethingfinance.com/where-to-get-cheap-or-free-flu-shots/ 2  Influenza is a virus, so antibiotics will not “take care of you” should you contract it.  Antibiotics work on bacteria.  People do die from the flu- the elderly, infants and toddlers and those with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable.

Some other ways to stay healthy this flu season include:

  1. Wash your hands- multiple times a day
  2. Eat a balanced diet including a variety of fruits and vegetables for vitamin C, beta-carotene and other immune-protective nutrients.
  3. Consume adequate protein and iron from plant or animal sources. Both nutrients are needed for a strong immune system.  Plant sources include dried beans, lentils and tofu.  Eggs, lean beef and chicken and fish are also good sources.
  4. Do regular exercise. Regular physical activity improves T cell function of the immune system to fight disease.
  5. Get enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours to prevent getting run down, which lowers immunity.

If you do contract the flu, some ways to take care of yourself include:

  1. Staying hydrated. Eating soup, foods high in water (like fruits and vegetables) and consuming lots of fluids help by keeping mucous membranes moist and clear.
  2. Eating enough calories. A rise in temperature while you are sick increases your metabolic rate and may lead to weight loss.  Be sure to eat 3 meals a day and snacks if needed.
  3. Say no to extra activities if you can and stay home from work. You don’t want others around you to get sick either.

References:

  1. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/24/457103549/worried-about-the-flu-shot-lets-separate-fact-from-fiction
  2. https://20somethingfinance.com/where-to-get-cheap-or-free-flu-shots/

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