As the leaves start to fall and temperatures get cooler, we enter the time of year when people tend to get more colds and flu. It’s never fun to be sick, and after nearly two years of trying to avoid COVID-19, what will flu season look like in the 2021–2022 season? And how can you prevent flu in your household?
Last flu season, cases were minimal if not nonexistent. That’s due, in large part, to mask wearing and social distancing, as well as stay-at-home mandates across the country. But with kids back in school and parents back in the office, we may be looking at a huge issue with the flu this year. Experts predict up to 400,000 more hospitalizations due to flu this year than in previous seasons.
What can you do to keep yourself safe?
What is the Flu?
Not to be confused with a common cold, the flu often comes on more quickly and can last longer. It can also result in hospitalization and, in some instances, death. Common symptoms associated with flu may include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle and body aches
- Extreme tiredness
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
The flu is a respiratory illness that spreads through saliva, usually from coughing or sneezing. It is most contagious within the first 3–4 days of becoming sick, and sometimes one day before symptoms occur and up to a week after getting sick—and some people may be contagious even longer.
How to Prevent Flu
As we’ve learned in the last couple of years, to prevent easily transmissible illnesses, it’s important to:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you’re sick to avoid giving what you have to anyone else.
Unfortunately, being healthy is not adequate to prevent flu since everyone is susceptible. Following good hygiene, however, is a start.
The best way to prevent flu is by getting the flu vaccine each year. Approved for those six months of age and older, the vaccine is updated annually to protect people from the most common strains expected that year.
It is predicted that 2021–2022 will be a dangerous flu season with estimates that there could be 20% more cases than in a typical season. Children younger than the age of two may be particularly at risk since they have not been previously exposed to the virus.
The incidence of severe complications and hospitalizations from flu symptoms can be greatly decreased if people choose to get immunized. In a typical year, approximately 50% of Americans receive the vaccine, and even a 10% increase in that number could result in a 6–46% decrease in cases, depending on the severity and transmissibility of this year’s strains.
Who’s Eligible for the Flu Vaccine?
Everyone who is six months of age and older can benefit from the flu vaccine. Children younger than six months are just as susceptible, so siblings and adults who interact with them should be vaccinated, including caregivers. Those at higher risk from suffering severe complications from the flu include young children; people with immune deficiencies, heart disease, and diabetes; pregnant women; and those 65 years of age and older.
If you are an existing patient of Community Choice Pediatrics, we encourage you to call our office to schedule your annual flu shot. Ideally, you should have this completed by the end of October. Not a current patient? Let’s rectify that and schedule your first appointment!
Be sure to watch our Facebook page to see our flu clinic times should your children contract the flu and need to be seen by one of our doctors.