Prevention is critical to maintaining good health
Flu season officially begins each October 1st. And, in case you might have forgotten, the obvious ‘free-flu-shot’ signs are everywhere to remind you.
I noticed the other day my local Acme supermarket in the Rehoboth Beach is offering a 10% discount on your grocery bill, up to $200, if you get your free flu shot at its pharmacy. Now that’s great PR.
Emily Knearl, section chief of the Office of Health and Risk Communication with Delaware Public Health, said all flu shot programs in Delaware, whether at a supermarket, pharmacy, clinic, or through a hospital, are strictly regulated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, you don’t have to worry about your safety if you get your shot at a convenient location. There are lots of convenient locations.
Besides local pharmacies, Delaware Public Health has clinics all over the place. You can check out the state’s flu clinic schedule at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/index.html or you can find out by calling (800) 282-8672. Beebe Healthcare in Lewes also is offering free flu shot clinics, as well as free shots at the hospital in Lewes every Monday through mid-November.
If you do not live in Delaware, you can find the nearest flu clinic by visiting https://www.cdc.gov/flu/. Emily explained that under the Affordable Care Art (Obama Care), we all get shots for free, whether our insurance pays or the government pays.
Flu shots are important!
One thing I learned while working in public relations at a hospital is that flu shots help prevent flu. CDC estimates that your risk of getting sick with flu drops from between 40% to 60% if you get the shot (Yes, some people get it anyway, and no, it doesn’t give you the flu).
The incidences of flu usually peak in December and January.
People with compromised immune systems (and with chronic illnesses that include cardiovascular disease, COPD, diabetes) can get seriously ill if they get flu. And, people die of flu. Last year, 15 people died of flu in Delaware. A few years ago, nearly 30 people died of flu in Delaware. In fact, the CDC estimates that somewhere between 12,000 and 56,000 people in the United States have died of the flu since 2010.
Of course, there are people who cannot get the shot because of allergies to eggs and some other ingredients. You know who you are, or should find out if you are concerned. But the majority of us have a better chance to stay healthy this winter if we get the shot.
I’m not trying to scare anyone. I realize there are the believers and disbelievers. I’m a believer in vaccinations. I am old enough to remember when a boy in my class at elementary school had braces on his legs that had been damaged by polio, and when I had to stay in my room for a week as a young child with measles because the doctor was worried about my eyes.
I spent two weeks in isolation as a parent when my one-year-old son got mumps! He was so sick that he had convulsions. I dipped him in a cold bathtub and that helped.
A few days ago, a woman in her 60s told me she doesn’t get the shot because it gave her the flu when she was 14 years old. I didn’t want to argue with her because I felt it was rude, and hope she doesn’t end up suffering this winter.
It’s never too late in the season to get the shot, though earlier is better. It takes about two weeks before it is effective. I got mine at Rite Aid a few days ago before I heard about Acme’s discount.
While this season’s flu hasn’t shown up yet in the United States, it has been creating some issues in Australia, where there has been two-and-a-half times more lab-confirmed cases this year than last. Flu hits Australia before the North American continent so U.S. health officials are predicting higher numbers here, too. Nothing is for sure.
A new vaccine formula is made every year to target the flu anticipated to hit. The CDC also is NOT recommending the flu nasal spray, which doesn’t seem to work.
You can get all the details about this season’s flu by checking the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm.
Other helpful tips to avoid getting sick this winter are:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often
- Wash your hands before you eat
- Wash your hands before you eat after you have gone to the bathroom, touched handrails, handled money, picked up library books, and pushed the cart at the grocery store.
- Keep your hands away from your face
- Cough into your arm rather that into your hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Get enough rest, think positive, and smile