Every fall and winter, 5 to 20 percent of people in the U.S. are infected by seasonal influenza (flu), a virus that attacks the respiratory tract. Experts are saying that this flu season is particularly bad—the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 43 states are already reporting widespread flu outbreaks. And some cities—such as Boston— are already declaring health emergencies due to a particularly high volume of flu cases reported.
For some people, contracting the virus can be life-threatening. Therefore, the first line of defense is to get a seasonal flu vaccine. Here’s how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, and how you can turn to Health Advocate for help.
Protect Yourself and Others
• It isn’t too late to get the flu shot! Get your whole family vaccinated. Everyone age 6 months or older should have an annual flu shot. It’s especially important for people at higher risk including young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses such as asthma, and those who care for others who are at high risk.
• Wash your hands often. Or, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Click here to view best practices for handwashing.
• Cover your mouth. Sneeze and cough into a tissue or into your elbow (if a tissue isn’t handy). This is the best way to prevent virus droplets from becoming airborne.
• Don’t touch your nose and eyes. The virus gains entry into the body through the nose, eyes and mouth. (Don’t nibble on your nails, either.)
Think you have the flu?
• Know the symptoms. A fever over 100 degrees, achy muscles, chills and sweats, dry cough, fatigue, weakness and congestion could mean you have the flu.
• Call your doctor. Your doctor may provide a diagnosis and treatment plan.
• Stay home. Going to work or being out and about while sick will only spread the disease.
• Load up on liquids and get plenty of rest. This can help you prevent dehydration and allow your immune system to mount a good defense.
How Health Advocate can help
If you’re a Health Advocate member, turn to us for help with:
- Researching places to get vaccinated and arranging for a flu shot
- Answering questions about the flu and the vaccination
- Finding you a doctor if you think you have the flu, and help making the appointment
- Resolving any claim or insurance issues
Health Advocate members can call us for help at 866.695.8622 or visit us online at HealthAdvocate.com/members.