Get Ready for the 2019-2020 Flu Season

October 21, 2019

Many health experts are predicting that this year’s flu season – which is already underway – will be a bad one. They base this prediction on looking at other countries where flu happens first, such as Australia, which had 300,000 cases of the flu this year.

That’s why getting a flu shot is so important, particularly for those in the healthcare profession. Not only will a flu shot help protect you from the flu, but also those you care for. Older adults are more susceptible to get the flu and are at a greater risk of serious complications from it because our immune systems grow weaker as we age. It is estimated that 70-90% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. If you get your shot, that’s one less person who might spread the virus to them. And remember – even if you got a flu shot last year, that won’t help you this year. The flu is a rapidly mutating virus and the vaccination changes each year to try and combat the specific viruses most prevalent in any given year. Hopefully, you’ve already got your shot, but, if not, you still have time to get vaccinated.

In addition to getting vaccinated, there are several things you can do to protect yourself. Here are some tips to keep you and our residents safe this flu season:

Wash your hands frequently

Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds is one of the single best ways to help spread the flu virus. After washing your hands be sure to dry them thoroughly with a paper towel. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Be aware that an antibacterial hand sanitizer that doesn’t contain alcohol will do nothing to protect you against the flu, as the flu is caused by a virus. Avoid touching surfaces that may be contaminated, such as doorknobs, the hands and faces of others, copier machine buttons, etc. To be extra vigilant, wipe down common area surfaces with an alcohol wipe.

Avoid contact with those who have the flu

The flu is highly contagious, so avoiding people who are sick is always a good precaution. People who have the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. They can spread it to others who come within about six feet of them and most experts believe it is spread through tiny droplets that are transmitted when someone sneezes or coughs – or even talks.

Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze

A tissue works best (as it can be disposed of immediately), but if you don’t have one handy, sneeze into your upper sleeve. Always wash your hands after sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Follow a regular health maintenance program

Exercise, eat well, get plenty of fresh air, and refrain from smoking as part of your daily health regimen. Get plenty of sleep and learn to reduce stress in your life through practices such as meditation, yoga or tai chi.

If you do become sick, follow these guidelines:

See your doctor

The best way to help ensure the flu doesn’t become deadly is to see your doctor. They may prescribe antiviral drugs, which can make your illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also help prevent serious complications.

Stay home

If you get the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Limit your contact with others as much as possible. This will help keep you from infecting those who are most vulnerable to catching the disease.

Get plenty of rest

Take it easy. The body heals best when it is not distracted by having to do other things. Relaxing allows your body to focus on getting well. Drink plenty of fluids and follow your doctor’s instructions.

Sara A. Martin-Washo, the Health and Wellness Clinic at The Summit says “For more Sara Martin_Washothan 100 years, vaccination has consistently been the world’s biggest public health achievement. Today’s younger generations, who are caring for our residents, need to understand that by participating in vaccination programs they are protecting others through herd immunity. Just as they protected us, it is now our turn to pay it forward and protect today’s most cherish asset, our elders.”