With the flu season now in full swing, it’s important to remind ourselves to take preventative measures to maintain healthy habits and protect ourselves and others from getting influenza (the flu). The flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus that can develop very quickly. With flu, you always have a fever and usually includes common symptoms such as headache, sore throat, dry cough, stuffy or runny nose.
Here are some facts and myths about the flu and what you can do to protect yourself and others from getting infected with this seasonal virus:
When is “flu season?” The timing, severity and length of the annual flu seasonvaries from one season to another, but outbreaks can begin as early as October, and tends to peak around January or later.
For how long is it contagious? The flu can be passed on even before someone realizes they’re sick, since most healthy adults can infect others 1 day before and up to 5-‐7 days after becoming sick. Children or those with weakened immune systems, that period is even longer.
Did you know there are several options available for flu shots? Here are some:
- Regular seasonal flu shot
- Intradermal shot for those who might be squeamish about needles (approved for adults 18-‐64; this may or may not be covered by insurance)
- High dose vaccination for customers 65 years and older (provides an elevated level of antigens, which can create a stronger immune response in senior
Myth #1: I only need to be vaccinated once. A new flu vaccine is developed each year to fight the strains that are most likely to be prevalent for the season, so it’s important to get your flu shot each year.
Myth #2: People start getting sick once cold weather hits, so it’s too early to get my shot. The CDC recommends to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available, ideally by October (outbreaks can happen before Halloween!). It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in your body to provide protection, so it’s not too soon.
Myth #3: I’ve heard you can get sick from a flu shot. It’s actually impossible, since the vaccine is made from an inactivated (dead!) virus, so it cannot give you the flu. If you get flu-‐like symptoms after getting your flu shot, it’s likely that you were exposed to the flu after you got vaccinated but before the vaccine took effect, which can be up to two weeks. (The only real side effect of the flu vaccine might be soreness or redness where the shot was administered!)
How can I protect myself and my family? Vaccination is the first line of defense against the flu. Eating right, exercising and getting plenty of rest can also help, but the single most effective way to avoid getting the flu to get a seasonal flu shot!
Who should get the shot? Since getting a seasonal flu vaccine is the single most effective way to prevent getting the flu, the CDC recommends that anyone ages six months or older be vaccinated, including those who were vaccinated last season.
Try some of these daily tips to keep healthy and help to prevent cold and flu:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, and discard of the tissue in the trash. Sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread easily that way.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick. Flu is thought to be mainly spread from person-‐to-‐person contact (coughing and sneezing doesn’t help!).
- If you’re sick, stay home from school or work to keep others from getting infected.
And if you’re close to a CVS MinuteClinic, it’s great to know that they offer flu vaccinations for patients 18 months and older. Note that if you have a child between 6 and 18 months, they should receive their vaccination from a pediatrician.
As far as health insurance coverage, most health insurance plans including Medicare Part B, typically cover the full cost of a flu shot, and MinuteClinic accepts most insurance, as well as cash payments.
And as an added bonus, you will receive a 20% off CVS/pharmacy Shopping pass when you get a flu shot at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic.
To learn more about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu. MinuteClinic also has great information on flu shots, including their full vaccination offerings on this page.
*Hip Mama’s Place Disclosure: “This is a sponsored post written by me for CVS MinuteClinic. I was provided a flu shot voucher and a promotional product to thank me for my time in facilitating this post. All opinions expressed are 100% my own”.
Don’t miss out on the latest fab deals, cool freebies, fun giveaways, delicious recipes, DIY inspirations and more! Subscribe to the Hip Mama’s Place email newsletter, Hip Mama’s Place feed reader, or simply “Like” Hip Mama’s Place on Facebook and/or follow Hip Mama’s Place on Twitter!
About the Author: Jocelyn Cañasa-Brown is a working mom of two boys and is a recognized blogger and mom influencer in the Washington, DC area. In her spare time, she designs and creates her own handmade jewelry, maintains her jewelry store on Etsy and is an active moms group organizer and leader both online and offline. Hip Mama’s Place was nominated for Parents 2011 Best All-Around Mom Blog and named one of the Highest Rated Blogs and Sites on Nickelodeon ParentsConnect for the Washington, DC area. Follow Jocelyn on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.