Yep, it’s officially here: Flu Season 2016. Of course, there is no official day that marks the beginning of flu season, but a reasonably good marker for the start of this period has always been when school starts to return to session in the Fall.
Nobody likes having the flu: that terrible achy feeling, runny nose, constant coughing, lack of energy… it can all add up to a miserable week or so if you’re unlucky enough to catch the virus. For some people, however, influenza is a lot more than just an inconvenience: it can be potentially deadly. Those with weakened immune systems, as well as the elderly, are at special risk when it comes to the flu.
However, even if you’re a person in good health with no existing conditions that you’re aware of, the flu can be potentially very serious for you as well. Medical professionals aren’t always sure why influenza can turn into something serious in even a healthy person, so it’s up to you to do everything you can to avoid getting this nasty virus each year.
The very first line of defense against the flu is a flu vaccine. You can absolutely forget about the utter misinformation floating around out there that vaccines are bad, or that they don’t work. Vaccines are an absolutely critical, scientifically proven part of our medical arsenal to keep you healthy and able to withstand viruses.
Flu vaccines are available in so many different places, and are so cheap to get even without insurance, that there is absolutely no excuse for not getting your flu shot each year. Pharmacies, doctors (including Urgent 9), and clinics all have an abundance of flu shots to immunize their communities.
Remember, just because you got the vaccine last year does NOT mean that you are covered for this year. The flu virus changes each year, and vaccines are re-formulated to target the latest version of the virus. Other changes happen too, such as the CDC now no longer recommending the nasal spray that some people were using instead of the vaccine.
So, let’s say you’ve already done the right thing and gotten your flu vaccine. What else can you do to help prevent catching the flu virus this year? For starters, practice the best hygiene you possibly can. This means washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, keeping your home and work areas clean, and practicing common sense such as covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough (and make sure others do, too).
Remember that influenza is a lot more serious than the common cold — they are absolutely not the same, particularly in some very important areas such as the depth of penetration into your respiratory system, as well as the seriousness of the virus’ effects if left unchecked.
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself and your family vaccinated against the flu, and avoid getting sick during this beautiful Los Angeles fall weather!