Prevention is the best medicine to help protect you and your family from the flu each season. And, while many are still doing their preventative best for COVID, getting sick with the flu can be complicated in the current disease-cautious culture. Being aware of the differences between COVID symptoms and flu symptoms can drastically change how you (and potentially your kids, your co-workers, or your local community) might need to respond.
Being informed is the first step of what to do, so you are aware of what is needed, in case you do get sick. Pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals are prepping for flu shots, but there are several things you can do to help keep yourself healthy during this complicated season of sickness. Here are a few tips from CHP for staying strong and healthy during this flu season
Getting the flu shot is a great first step to help keep from getting sick. While you shouldn’t live in fear of the flu, it is a potentially deadly disease, requiring hospitalization. It’s a good idea to be prepared to fight against it from the start, and the flu shot lends a helping hand there. Put a reminder in your calendar now: you want to get your flu vaccine early in the fall before flu season starts. You can get it easily at clinics like CHP, or usually even just at the pharmacy.
During this time of COVID-19, the steps to prevent infection are the same as for the flu. Washing your hands with soap and water, wearing a face covering, coughing into your elbow, and staying home when you feel ill can go a long way towards keeping you and those around you healthy.
By now, we’re all used to washing our hands frequently, avoiding touching our faces, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and keeping a distance from sick people. All of these common practices hold true when it comes to the flu.
It’s a smart idea to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating or preparing food, after coughing or sneezing, using the restroom, touching garbage, or petting an animal. When you wash your hands, be sure to scrub them well for at least 20 seconds, getting under your nails, between your fingers, and the backs of your hands too.
Pregnant women can still get safely vaccinated against the flu, as long as they opt for the shot rather than the nasal spray, as the CDC recommends. And having the flu shot also helps protect the baby for the first few months after birth, when they’re still too young to be vaccinated.
Pregnant women should contact their doctor right away if they show flu symptoms, like a fever, runny nose, cough, or sore throat. There are several treatments to consider with your doctor, including antivirals, that can help prevent a severe case if you do come down with something.
It’s a good idea to check on policies at your child’s school. See how frequently surfaces get cleaned and determine what they do when a student comes down with a bug. Is there a school nurse on site every day? Or are they on a rotation with multiple schools? When will the school contact parents if their child isn’t feeling well?
Kids can get vaccinated for the flu, just like adults. In fact, the CDC recommends the flu shot for everyone six months and up. It’s well worth talking to your child’s medical provider to see what they would suggest in your particular situation.
School can be complicated, especially when symptoms of flu and COVID can be confusing. Be aware of how your school is handling general sickness and the difference from COVID. Also, make sure that you are confident, or your physician is satisfied, that your child is well before returning to school. The instances of COVID sickness among children are incredibly low, but it doesn’t mean that they are impervious to getting others sick.
It’s good to keep up on your regular wellness checks to stay in good health, which will only help your immune system fight off bugs like the flu.
Don’t let medical care costs keep you from seeking advice from a medical provider with regular wellness checks. CHP offers easy enrollment into public insurance if you qualify, and you can take advantage of a sliding payment scale based on income for whatever insurance doesn’t cover. Take your healthcare seriously, without worrying about how you’ll pay for vital preventative care.