Protect yourself with a flu shot
Flu season is reaching its peak. Hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients and are running out of spare beds.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting widespread, epidemic-level flu activity in almost every state.
The bad news is that this year’s flu strain, H3N2, is especially severe, and the flu vaccine isn’t a great match 😕
But the good news is that if you haven’t already gotten a flu shot, it’s not too late. We might be seeing the worst of it right now, but flu season can last another four or five months.
Last year’s flu vaccine was not a great match, either. I think many people might have gotten the flu even if they had the shot (like me!) and this year decided “Why bother?”
But even a weak vaccine can be protective and reduce the severity of symptoms and length of time you’re sick.
Take extra precautions
In addition to the flu shot, try to be more aware of how you might spread or catch the flu virus.
The flu spreads when a sick person coughs, sneezes or just touches an object.
If you’re sick:
- Stay home from work or school (I know some jobs or schools make this difficult, and I think those policies are so dangerous to public health!).
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow (not your hands). The virus travels in the small droplets of mucus and snot that leave your mouth and nose. If you want to see an eye-opening and disturbing slow-motion video demonstration, watch this:
To stay healthy:
- Avoid crowds and public places, such as malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc., until the worst of the flu activity is over.
- Carry hand sanitizer everywhere and wash your hands ALL THE TIME.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands; that’s how a virus can invade your body.
- Be informed—The best cold and flu medicines
- Know the difference between cold and flu
- Tips to prevent colds and flu
The biggest, deadliest flu epidemic in history was the 1918 Spanish flu (it wasn’t really Spanish, but whatever). An estimated 50 million people died—that was about 20% of the world’s population at that time!
The PBS series, American Experience, created a great documentary about the 1918 epidemic. It’s well worth watching. It can be streamed on the PBS website, or on Netflix.
Below I’ve put links to the two books I’ve read on the 1918 flu. Both are well written and make you understand just how frightening the flu and other diseases were before vaccines were widely available.