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Flu season is worse than usual this year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that this year’s flu epidemic is showing elevated activity.
Even if you got the flu shot this year, you might still be susceptible to getting sick. Each season, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the flu viruses that researchers determine are most likely to circulate that year. This is why the flu vaccine is more effective some years than others. This year, the flu vaccine may not protect well against the more severe influenza A (H3N2) virus that is circulating. However, the CDC still recommends the flu vaccine as it should offer at least partial protection.
According to the CDC, the flu commonly spreads through droplets made when people cough, sneeze and talk, as well as when people touch something with the flu virus on it and then touch their mouths, noses or eyes.
Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with disabilities and other health conditions are at increased risk of getting the flu. Whether or not you have been vaccinated, you can still take measures to protect yourself and others from the flu.
- When possible, avoid close contact with sick individuals.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces, especially in shared areas such as the office kitchen.
In addition to keeping yourself healthy, you can help protect others from getting sick from your germs.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- Stay home for at least a day after your fever is gone, with the exception of getting medical care.
If you do get sick, aside from keeping your germs to yourself, here are a few suggestions for getting better as quickly as possible:
- Rest as much as possible.
- Drink plenty of water, broth and other clear fluids.
- Relieve symptoms by gargling with salt water, putting a humidifier in the room and covering yourself with a warm blanket.
- Talk to your doctor about a prescription antiviral medication to help with the flu.