What’s your excuse for waiting to get the flu vaccine?
Mine was that I couldn’t find the time to make an appointment to see my doctor or to wait in line at the pharmacy or Target. (And I also have a serious needle phobia.) But when the flu started going around the community center where my son goes to preschool, I certainly made the time and got my shot the next day.
According to the CDC, it’s still not too late to get the vaccine; the flu virus is now found in 41 states and the CDC expects several more weeks of flu activity. People who are at high-risk for flu complications, such as older adults, children under five, pregnancy women, and people with preexisting health conditions, are strongly encouraged by the CDC to get the vaccine.
This has been a terrible winter in my neck in the woods for everything: cold temperatures, bad snow storms, high winds, and rampant viruses. Just last week my husband and I had the worst stomach virus that we’d ever had in our lives. It was an apocalyptic scene in our house for days, the only bright spot being that our toddler only caught a very mild case. (The stomach “flu” is not actually a flu virus; influenza is a respiratory virus. The flu vaccine does not protect against stomach viruses.)
What do you do if you do get sick? Prescription medications can help to shorten the length and severity of the illness. Over-the-counter medications, such as decongestants and cough medicines, can help relieve symptoms as well, but sufferers should make sure to read the Drug Facts label, making sure that they are not taking more than one medication with the same active ingredients. Cough and cold medicines should never be given to children under the age of four. (For more advice about symptoms and when to contact a health care provider, see this article by OTCSafety.)
For most people, the flu is a common winter misery, but it’s important to be educated about the vaccine, symptoms, and treatment because it can also be a dangerous illness that leads to serious complications.
As for us, I’m hoping that we’ll continue to be a flu-free household this winter.
Has your family had the flu this winter? How did you cope?
As a member of the CHPA OTC Safety Ambassador Program, I received compensation for this post but all opinions are my own.