Friday, January 18, 2019

New year means new opportunities to avoid the flu

Did you resolve to be healthier this year? You’re not alone.

Every time a new year rolls around, people pledge to do things like giving up unhealthy food or screen time on the couch. That can be easier said than done, especially with all those great shows in your Netflix queue.

But there’s one thing that you can easily put behind you in the new year: The flu.

Infographic courtesy CDC
This year’s flu season is well underway. There’s high flu activity across the U.S., says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Jan. 17, flu was widespread in Guam and 30 states. In fact, as many as 7 million people have been sick with flu already this season. And up to 84,000 have been hospitalized from it.

Don’t let those numbers make you give up on your goals to be healthy this year. You can avoid getting sick by using CDC’s “Take 3” method.

First, get a flu shot every year. It protects you from multiple strains of the flu. Even if you got a shot last flu season, that doesn’t mean you’re protected now. Remember: New flu season, new flu shot.

The best time to get your shot is before the flu season begins. It takes about two weeks after your shot for flu antibodies to kick in. But if you haven’t gotten yours, it’s not too late. You can still protect yourself and others this flu season by getting your vax.

Don’t like needles? You’re in luck! CDC says you can use nasal spray this season, as long as you’re not pregnant and between ages 2 and 49.

Second, wash your hands well and often.

The flu is a virus and spreads easily. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to prevent spreading the flu. Also, try not to touch your mouth, nose and face to avoid getting sick.

Third, if you catch the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs. If so, take them, especially if you are high risk for getting really sick from flu. These drugs can make you feel better faster.

Need more tips about the flu and how to prevent spreading it? Check out our flu fact sheet and CDC’s flu season FAQs.

Here’s to a happy, healthy flu-free year!

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