This Is How You Can Avoid the Flu This Season
How the Flu Shot, Supplements, and Healthy Habits Can Help You Stay Healthy This Flu Season
Australia has had a particularly bad flu season this year, with more than two and a half times more cases1 being reported than last year, and a total of 52 deaths, according to CNN. And while it may seem unlikely that Americans in the U.S. would find themselves affected by this, it’s more likely to affect us than one might think.
“In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institution of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. And so if a flu season that’s two and a half times worse than last year is soon upon the U.S., Americans should certainly take all precautions to stay well this year.
Should You Get a Flu Shot?
The first step to wellness during flu season is to get a flu shot, but some people have concerns about this. So, should you get a flu shot? The short is answer is “probably yes.” According to the CDC, everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot, with rare exception.2 The only people over 6 months old for whom this rare exception applies are those who are severely allergic to the flu vaccine or any ingredients in the flu vaccine.3
It’s worth noting that this exception does not include people who are worried the flu shot will make them sick. And the idea that the flu shot will make you sick is not exactly true anyway. Some people do experience flu-like symptoms 1-2 days after receiving the flu shot, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, these symptoms are considerably less extreme than the symptoms of the actual flu.4 So if you’re worried that you might have some sniffles for a day or two, consider the 52 flu-related deaths in Australia this year. We don’t mean to minimize the loss of life, but a couple days with a runny nose seems tolerable in comparison.
And if the strong urging from the CDC doesn’t have you making an appointment to roll up your sleeve, perhaps the idea that you could be risking your life or the lives of those around you might change your mind.
Which Flu Shot Should You Get?
So we’re assuming since you’re reading this that you’re a person over the age of six months. And so long as you don’t have a severe allergy to the flu vaccine or any ingredients in the flu vaccine, you should consider getting a flu shot, if you haven’t already. But which flu shot should you get?
There are two different types of flu vaccines available, trivalent and quadrivalent,5 according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Trivalent vaccines protect against two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus, and quadrivalent vaccines protect against two influenza A viruses6 and two influenza B viruses. Different factors such as age, medical history, and allergies all play a factor in which flu shot is right for you, so be sure to consult your doctor if you are unsure.
Natural Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
While the effectiveness of the vaccine can vary, it is shown to reduce the risk of flu by between 40% and 60%,7 according to the CDC. Once you’ve gotten the flu shot that’s right for you, it’s important to make healthy daily decisions to avoid the flu. Simple steps you learned in grade school can go a long way to keeping you healthy, like avoiding close contact with sick people, washing your hands with soap and water, and keeping your living and work spaces clean.
In addition, taking supplements that help support a healthy immune system can play a role in avoiding the flu. Supplements with Echinacea have proven to be effective in preventing colds when taken at the first signs of symptoms.8 Similarly, the Polysaccharide Larch Arabinogalactan can have positive effects on the immune system.9
A healthy diet also plays a role in staying healthy during flu season. Foods that boost your immunity include mushrooms, garlic, citrus, and herbs and spices.10 According to WebMD, cutting down on refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can be useful as well.
Common-sense healthy habits like maintaining a healthy diet and washing your hands well and often, getting the flu shot that’s right for you, and taking supplements that help strengthen your immune system will all help you to avoid coming down with the flu. And given the expectation that this year’s flu season will be particularly bad, it seems like a good idea to take all available precautions.
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