The flu virus reaches epidemic proportions almost every year between late fall and winter, with millions of cases diagnosed each year and up to 60,000 casualties. Hundreds of thousands of patients are hospitalized due to severe symptoms and complications each flu season. The flu virus is highly contagious and peaks between December and March. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to reduce your chances of catching the virus and stay healthy for the duration of flu season.
Adopt good health habits like frequently washing your hands
The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to several days, where it can spread to your hands when you touch a surface and then through your body after you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. By washing your hands frequently, you will be able to kill germs lingering on your hands. Make sure you wet your hands first by using warm running water, then later with antibacterial soap. Scrub for at least 30 seconds, making sure you get the backs of your hands, underneath your nails and between each finger before rinsing again under warm, running water. Make sure you are washing your hands several times a day, including:
- After using the restroom or handling a diaper
- Before and after preparing or eating food
- After using public transportation
- After using common touch points like stair railings, doorknobs and elevator buttons
Other health habits that will reduce your chances of contracting the flu include avoiding large crowds of people, especially in the height of flu season. The incubation for the flu virus can last up to a few days, people may not know that they are sick before symptoms begin to appear. Because the flu is also an airborne virus, avoiding crowds can help you avoid being exposed to the virus when someone around you coughs or sneezes. If you begin to exhibit symptoms of the flu, stay home and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours to let your fever break or symptoms subside.
Get an annual flu shot
An annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent catching the flu this year. The flu shot is engineered to combat the current active stain of the virus and provides immunity for up to six months, or the duration of one flu season. The flu shot is recommended for almost all patients over six months old, with exceptions of patients who have previously had an adverse reaction to a flu shot and patients who have egg allergies. If you are considered to be high risk for complications or more severe symptoms of the virus you should consult with your physician about the best time to get your flu shot as well as whether you should get a second dosage for late-season protection. Patients who may be at high risk for the flu include:
- Senior citizens
- Pregnant women
- Young children
- Immunocompromised patients
- Patients with chronic health conditions
Walk-In Flu Shots in Thornton, Broomfield & Westminster, CO
It is recommended to get a flu shot between September and mid-October for optimal protection throughout the season. For walk-in flu shots, visit AFC Urgent Care Thornton. Most major insurance plans are accepted, with low-cost vaccines available for self-paying patients. For more information, please call 720-751-2910.