Last year’s flu season affected an alarming number of people, and experts predict this year’s flu season could strike as early as October. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends families protect themselves now with the 2013 influenza vaccine.
Vaccinations have been proven to decrease the incidence of influenza and its potentially deadly complications, particularly for those most affected by flu – children and seniors.
“The severity and prevalence of the flu each year is one of the most unpredictable events in medicine. However, it is highly predictable that if you get a flu shot, your chances of getting the flu are significantly less,” says D. Bruce Irwin, MD. “Too many people fail to take the flu seriously, and more than half of all Americans fail to protect themselves with a simple influenza vaccination. With schools in session, the spread of germs is inevitable and now is the time to protect yourself and your family from influenza. Last year we saw more people infected that could have been protected, leading to more seniors hospitalized from the flu than ever before.”
- The U.S. flu season can run from October through May.
- The CDC reports last year’s 2012-2013 flu season resulted in more hospitalizations of people over 65 than any flu season on record. Flu-related illnesses cause some 200,000 hospitalizations each year.
- People most at risk of the flu and further complications are young children, folks over age 65 and pregnant women. However, the pandemic H1N1 that surfaced in 2009 was most common in teenagers and young adults.
- 90 percent of flu related deaths are people age 65 or older.
- Pediatricians typically offer vaccines for children only. Pharmacies typically offer vaccines only for adults. AFC and AFC Doctors Express Centers offer one-stop-flu shots and mists for the entire family – both children and adults (Ages of children vaccinated vary by center).
- The past few years, on average, 42 percent of Americans were vaccinated against the flu – meaning more than half of all Americans don’t typically get a flu shot.
Even with a vaccination, you still need to protect yourself!
- Bring your own pen – to the bank, grocery store, even to touch the ATM. Anything a sick person touches can harbor germs, including money, mail, ATM keypads, elevator buttons, etc.
- Use paper – replace hand towels in bathrooms with paper towels. They’re not as pretty, but paper towels can help get rid of a ton of germs that live in damp towels.
- Wash hands frequently – use soap, warm water and rinse long enough to say the alphabet or sing “Happy Birthday.” Recent studies show plain soap and water work just fine.
- Use a proper hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) anytime you touch anything. Make sure you use sanitizer, even under fingernails, where germs hide.
- Clean with disinfectant – viruses and bacteria can live up to two hours or longer on doorknobs, toys, TV remote controls, keyboards, mouse pads, refrigerator handles, counter tops, railings, faucets, bathroom floors and more.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services, Infectious Disease Foundation