Protecting You and Your Family Against the Flu

Flu symptoms

Protecting You and Your Family Against the Flu

By Brandon Allen, PharmD

The flu season is approaching.

The highest rates of flu are seen between December and February. Prevention is key. This means that taking action now will pay off for months to come.

An Ounce of Prevention

The flu will affect an average of 10 to 15% of the U.S. population each year, leading to about 200,000 people being hospitalized. While death is uncommon among younger, healthy adults, the flu still claims up to 50,000 lives per year, primarily children and the elderly.

There are ways to help prevent the flu, but getting the flu shot is still the best prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you and your family should receive the flu shot each year in the early fall. This can be done at your local pharmacy and is usually covered by your insurance.

For people between 6 months of age and 65 years of age, you should be receiving a quadrivalent flu shot. This means it protects against four strains of the flu, compared to the trivalent alternative that only covers three strains.

For people 65 years of age and older, it’s recommended you receive a high-dose flu vaccine. This is a more concentrated form of the vaccine that ensures you are getting the proper protection during the flu season.

If you have children less than 6 months old, consult your pediatrician regarding immunizing against the flu. Like all immunizations, the flu shot takes about two weeks to work, so it’s important to recognize other ways of preventing the flu.

Natural Ways to Prevent the Flu

Proper hand hygiene is one of the best preventatives. You want to wash your hands often, especially any time you touch your face, nose, mouth, etc., as this behavior helps the virus make its way into our bodies.

Wash your hands with antibacterial soap for at least 15 seconds (or how long is takes you to say the ABCs twice) with warm water. Make sure you dry your hands completely after washing. Hand sanitizers are popular and can definitely help, but they are not a substitute for hand washing.

Some supplements, like Viracid, are available for helping prevent the flu. In fact, we encourage people to take a small pack of Viracid with them as they leave the pharmacy after getting a flu shot. This particular supplement contains a combination of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, L-lysine and pantothenic acid, which each play a role in maintaining a healthy, functioning immune system. I recommend taking one capsule per day for prevention. Usually, people opt to take this route to prevent the flu during the two-week period for their flu shot to become effective.

Behaviors associated with a healthy lifestyle, such as a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, exercise, stress management, and getting adequate sleep will also help ensure you have a healthy immune system that can fight back against the flu.

How to Identify an Individual with the Flu

Now you know how best to prevent the flu, let’s talk worst-case scenario. Often, the flu is confused with a bad cold. Here are some differences between the cold and the flu (courtesy of the CDC):

If you notice any of the symptoms related to the flu, you should see your doctor as soon as possible or head to urgent care. They can test you for the flu and provide you with medication that can shorten the duration of the flu and help you recover faster.

Our pharmacy is always available to answer questions and to be a resource for the community. If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out to us at 940-484-0100. Wishing you the best in health.