By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
The flu season months have officially come. Winter fun is ruined by frequent viral outbreaks, and the most common virus—influenza—leaves no one behind.
Apart from the fact that flu season is always deadly, claiming thousands of lives each year, we are in the middle of the global pandemic. The reality is that COVID-19 and influenza are very similar in terms of symptoms, making this flu season extra challenging.
However, you can protect yourself by making simple changes in your daily routine and making them a habit.
Read on for some of the main steps you can take to protect your family and yourself from contracting the flu this winter.
Although getting a flu shot might sound like a natural thing to do, you’d be surprised how many people refuse to be vaccinated. The best time to get your flu shot is now!
Nowadays, many people are skeptical of flu vaccines, making vaccination another problematic part of flu season. Most adults and over 60% of children never get their yearly flu shot. People don’t see the point in getting it when its effectiveness only ranges from 20% to 60%.
Although flu case numbers are always on the higher side, people still refuse to be vaccinated. Many also wonder why they need to be vaccinated every year.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “When you get vaccinated, your immune system produces antibodies to protect you from the viruses included in the vaccine. But antibody levels may decline over time—another reason to get a flu shot every year.”
Some people also worry that getting a flu shot will give them influenza. However, the doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that is not possible.
A flu shot does have side-effects that include flu-like symptoms. Some people experience headaches, muscle aches, and a slight fever, but these symptoms are minor and look nothing like the real flu. Getting a flu shot also does not increase your chances of getting COVID-19—something else that concerns many people.
Medical officials are urging people to get their flu shots, especially this year with COVID-19. A flu shot can reduce the chance of getting both the flu and coronavirus simultaneously, which could be very serious and, in some cases, deadly.
It has never been more important to wash your hands than now. With the pandemic on the rise and flu season just around the corner, it is vital to take personal hygiene to the next level.
Wash your hands when you get up, before meals, and during meal preparation. Wash them as soon as you enter your home if you’ve spent time outside and after touching unclean surfaces like door handles, bathroom fixtures, and tiles.
Washing your hands can keep you safe and prevent the spread of infection from one person to another. Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands can contribute to the unnecessary spread of viruses and bacteria.
Many people don’t wash their hands properly. These are the five steps to follow when you’re washing your hands.
While washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs, you can also use hand sanitizer if you don’t have any soap at your disposal. Just make sure it contains over 60% alcohol.
Take extra measures to make sure your home is disinfected, even if it means you walk around the house with a disinfectant cleaner.
Spray all surfaces in your home; make sure you take all of your clothes and put them in the washer or the dryer for half an hour.
Wash everything you can wash regularly, like curtains, sofa covers, and pillows. Wipe all of your doorknobs and light switches at least once a day. Disinfect your table, desk, and even electronics, making sure to follow cleaning instructions.
Don’t forget to disinfect your phone. Studies show that phones collect over 25.000 bacteria per square inch, making your phone ten times dirtier than a toilet seat!
It goes without saying that if you’re not in contact with someone ill, there is absolutely no chance you’ll contract a virus. But we’re social beings, and it is in our nature to be close to other people.
Social distancing has been advised from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With flu season months, we must be even more careful to stick to the rule of social distancing.
Avoid going out if you don’t need to. It is best to shop for groceries online, but if you have to get out of the house, make sure you’re as protected as you can be. Wear your mask and keep your distance. Don’t touch things you don’t need to touch.
If you notice someone around you is ill, with symptoms like a cough or just noticeably unwell, keep your distance and call 911 if need be.
“We’re trying to use some common sense, that when people are put together in large groups, in small spaces, that when you have an illness that is borne by droplets, by coughing and sneezing, that there’s more chance to spread it among the community if you’re in close quarters,” said Matthew Faiman, M.D. of Cleveland Clinic.
Keeping your distance is crucial, especially now.
Avoid small places with a lot of people inside, and also avoid outdoor crowds.
The festive season is at its peak. Unfortunately, many of us are prevented from visiting our families and friends. We have to think about protecting others as well, not just ourselves.
If you do these things—get a flu shot, wash your hands more frequently, disinfect your home, avoid infected people, and avoid crowds—there’s a good chance you’ll stay healthy during flu season months, even amid COVID-19.