Flu Season Isn’t Over Yet. Here’s How to Avoid Getting Sick.
Flu season usually occurs between November and March, and according to recent reports flu season may still be around even after we officially hit spring.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently said flu activity is still elevated in the U.S. and is expected to last for several more weeks.
Why? There are several reasons.
Longer Flu Season Than Usual
First, the percentage of respiratory samples that have tested positive for flu remains high at 24.2 percent, as of the first week of March. The amount of people visiting hospitals is higher than the national baseline and there continues to be reports of flu-related deaths. On top of that, more than 11,000 have been hospitalized with the flu and 39 states have reported high activity of flu-related illnesses late in this year’s flu season.
If you haven’t yet received the flu vaccine, you should still get one. Seniors and young children, in particular, should get a flu shot because they have a higher risk of complications if they get sick.
Flu season is more intense in the winter because the virus spreads more easily in cold air and low humidity, leading more people to get ill and transmit the virus. And just because we’re in Florida doesn’t mean we’re immune to this. As of late February, flu season hit its peak in our state and data shows that this year’s flu season is worse than 2016. According to recent data, there were 864 flu cases diagnosed at Centra Care urgent care centers in Central Florida in a seven-day period, compared to 840 such cases during the same time last year. Other facilities in the area have shown an increased number of flu cases, as well.
How to Reduce Your Flu Risk
Aside from getting the flu shot, you can take several other steps to reduce your risk of the flu, including:
- Take a day off: Stay home from work or school if you’re sick. This will reduce the likelihood you spread the virus to another person.
- Have tissues handy: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay away: If you can, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay clean: Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you can’t get to a sink right away. Also clean and disinfect surfaces at home, school or work, especially if these spaces are shared with someone who may have the flu.
- Rest up: Sleep is good for your immune system, so getting enough rest can help you stay healthy or recover more quickly if you do get sick.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic beverages. Dehydration can worsen symptoms if you’re sick, so drink up.
Getting the flu is no joke, so follow these tips to reduce your risk. But most importantly, get a flu shot if you haven’t already done so. It may be March, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late.