The flu is something everyone hopes to avoid. From the fever, chills, and body aches to even more unpleasant effects, the flu takes people away from work and their daily lives. Whether it lasts for a day or more, the toll it takes is something anyone would avoid if possible.
So how can you lower your risk of getting the flu? Doctor Rujuta Gandhi of Regional Health Clinic provided a few tips including washing your hands and avoiding touching your face, but first and foremost being receiving a flu shot each year.
“The best way to prevent yourself from getting flu is to get the flu vaccine,” explained Dr. Gandhi. “ The vaccine is very safe and flu season will go through till at least February, if not March and April. We still have months of flu season left.”
With misconceptions abound, Dr. Gandhi is eager to dispel the notions that convince people not to get the vaccine. One of the most common is the idea that receiving the flu shot would cause someone to get the flu.
“What is in the vaccine can’t replicate or cause disease. Some patients will get a runny nose or a scratchy throat as a reaction to the vaccine, but it’s not the flu,” explained Dr. Gandhi.
Others believe that because they rarely get sick that the vaccine itself is unnecessary. According to Dr. Gandhi, that’s a stroke of luck, and not something that can be relied upon to prevent future exposure.
“Just because you’ve been lucky enough to not get the flu in previous seasons doesn’t mean you aren't going to get it,” said Dr. Gandhi. “You never know when you’ll be sitting near someone who has the flu and isn’t aware of it and you get exposed.”
Additionally, it’s important to get vaccinated to help protect those who otherwise cannot be. For those working with the elderly or young children it is especially important to help lower their risk of being exposed to the flu virus.
“Babies younger than 6 months old cannot get the flu vaccine. If you’re around young children or babies, by getting the vaccine you’re protecting your children,” said Dr. Gandhi. “You’re protecting yourself from getting it and passing it on to other people.”
While the flu shot is a valuable method to lower risk of catching the flu, it isn’t perfect. Dr. Gandhi urges people who do contract the flu to take action immediately to heal quickly and prevent further spreading of the disease.
“If you do get the flu, the treatment is making sure you stay home, don’t go to work or the store because you're contagious. Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and eat healthy,” said Dr. Gandhi.
The flu shot has much misinformation surrounding it, leading many to avoid getting the vaccine. While it may not be as effective year after year, it serves a valuable role in minimizing the damage and amount of sickness that can occur with a flu shot.