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Flu Season Strategies

In the winter of 2017, about 80,000 Americans died of the flu and related complications, while the number of people hospitalized neared 1 million, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the deadliest flu season since 1976, when the CDC first began tracking. The CDC also found that every age group experienced higher levels of flu severity last year.1

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine – for everyone 6 months and older – to protect against the virus.2 Ideally, this would be by the end of October, before the flu season ramps up, but the vaccine still offers protection anytime during the flu season. Check with your primary care doctor or pharmacy.

Getting the flu vaccination is not about just avoiding the illness yourself, but avoiding its spread. Even if you experience only a mild strain, others you come in contact with – family, friends, co-workers and neighbors – could suffer a much worse case due to exposure to your germs. Populations with the highest risk of complications and death are older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and children.3

In addition to the vaccine, the medical community recommends vigorous preventive actions such as frequent hand washing; covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze, such as coughing into the cuff of your arm; and, if you experience even mild symptoms of the flu, staying home until you recover, seeking treatment quickly and, if you are prescribed antiviral drugs, taking your prescription until the full dosage is completed.4

1 Susan Scutti. CNN. Sept. 27, 2018. “Flu season deaths top 80,000 last year, CDC says.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/26/health/flu-deaths-2017–2018-cdc-bn/index.html. Accessed Nov. 9, 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aug. 1, 2018. “CDC Says ‘Take 3’ Actions to Fight the Flu. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm. Accessed Nov. 16, 2018.

Susan Scutti. CNN. Sept. 27, 2018. “Flu season deaths top 80,000 last year, CDC says.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/26/health/flu-deaths-2017–2018-cdc-bn/index.html. Accessed Nov. 9, 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aug. 1, 2018. “CDC Says ‘Take 3’ Actions to Fight the Flu. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm. Accessed Nov. 16, 2018.

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