Cozy sweaters, fun festivals, leaves bursting into an array of beautiful colors, pumpkin flavored everything — with fall fast approaching, we’re reminded of all that comes with this beautiful season. We’re also reminded that fall also marks the beginning of influenza (flu) season! You know, the nasty illness that can cause fever, body aches, cough, runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea? The flu can lead to pneumonia, hospitalization and even death. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates between 12,000 to 56,000 deaths were caused by the flu every year since 2010. Scary, huh? What’s even scarier is anyone, at any age, can get the flu. Yes, even you!
The good news is there are things you can do to protect yourself and prevent the flu from spreading to others. The CDC has many great recommendations for fighting the flu (check them all out here), but let’s break it down to your top two most important actions.
Step 1: Get Your Flu Shot
- Getting vaccinated is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself against flu viruses.
- The CDC recommends that everyone, yes everyone, over the age of six months should get the flu vaccine. (That means YOU!)
- Get vaccinated every year. Yes, we know you got your flu shot last year, but every year a new vaccine is created to best protect you for that particular flu season. So, a new vaccination every year is critical.
- “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” The flu vaccine can help prevent missing long stretches of work or school and keep us out of the doctor’s office or hospital.
- Get your vaccine early! Once you’ve gotten your flu shot, it takes 14 days to build immunity to the flu viruses. The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October.
- Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine does NOT give you the flu. The vaccines either contain viruses that are no longer infectious, or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system.
- Although the flu vaccine is safe, side effects are possible. Common side effects can include a sore arm, minor aches or low-grade fever that goes away in a day or two. The side effects are not the flu!
Step 2: Stop Germs from Spreading
- As kids, we were all taught that it’s nice to share, but your mama was not talking about germs! That definitely won’t get you any friends.
- Wash your hands often! Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- No one wants to miss out on any of the fun, but if you are sick, stay home (or in your room)! Also, avoid others when they are sick.
- Please make sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t forget to wash your hands afterward.
- Clean and disinfect those germy surfaces. Cell phones, door handles, gaming and TV remotes. You know, those things you touch every day (but never clean)!
These simple but consistent steps can help keep everyone healthier. Get vaccinated and help protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the flu this season! View DePauw Health flu shot clinic information for students and for employees.