Avoid the flu this winter

October 06, 2016
Avoid flu this winter
Flu shots significantly reduce the risk of getting the flu and also lessen the severity of the illness.

Health experts recommend that almost everyone age 6 months or older receive a flu vaccine, preferably in the fall before the start of the season. However, for kids that may mean a few more tears this season.

In recent years as many as one-third of kids ages 2 through 17 received a nasal spray vaccine. But a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that the nasal spray vaccine should not be used this flu season. Studies show that the vaccine was not as effective last season in preventing flu compared to the traditional shot.

No one knows why the nasal vaccine was not as effective last year, says Dr. Shruti K. Gohil, a UC Irvine Health infectious disease specialist. It could be that the nasal vaccine was less effective against the predominant flu strain last season, H1N1.

So this year kids will need to roll up their sleeves, too. But the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. Flu shots significantly reduce the risk of getting the flu and also lessen the severity of the illness.

There are other important ways to curb your risk of getting sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels and alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Free flu shots will be available at the UC Irvine Health Super Saturday health fair on October 22 in Orange.

— UC Irvine Health Marketing & Communications
Featured in UC Irvine Health Live Well Magazine Fall 2016

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