Three ways to protect yourself from the flu

By Amanda Vignaroli, F.N.P. Sep 19, 2018

Hand washing is the second most important thing that you can do to protect you and your family from influenza, behind vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following as the top three actions to protect yourself from the flu: Vaccinate, prevent the spread of germs, and take antiviral drugs if prescribed.

Vaccination

It is especially important for those at the highest risk for complications from influenza to receive the vaccine. This includes:

  • Young children
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease
  • Anyone over the age of 65

There are two different types of influenza vaccine that can be given: inactivated and live attenuated vaccine. The inactivated vaccine is most commonly used. The most common adverse reaction of the inactivated influenza vaccine is local injection site soreness. Fever is also a possibility, but most often it is low grade and occurs in children younger than 2 years old. Rarely do serious adverse reactions occur from the inactivated influenza vaccine. Talk to your health care provider to see which form of the vaccine is best for you and your family.

Prevent the spread of germs

Hand washing is the second most important thing that you can do to protect you and your family from influenza. Follow these instructions for the best protection:

  1. Wet your hands and apply soap.
  2. Vigorously rub your hands together, palm to palm, for no less than 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse your hands well and dry with a clean towel.
  4. Use the towel to turn off the faucet to prevent re-contaminating your hands on the dirty faucet.

Hands should be washed this way after every use of the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing, and whenever hands are visibly dirty.

Another principle of keeping hands clean and keeping yourself healthy is making sure to clean the shopping cart off before touching the shopping cart while at stores. Proper sleep and nutrition are two other ways to keep yourself and family’s immune systems running to their full potential.

medication

Signs of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, fatigue and headache. These symptoms usually come on fast rather than slowly like a cold.

If you start to show these symptoms it is best to see your primary care provider as soon as possible to be tested and potentially to be treated with an antiviral. The sooner the symptoms start, the better it is to start the antiviral medications. Be sure to take the medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Amanda Vignaroli F.N.P.

Amanda Vignaroli is a certified family nurse practitioner at Sage Primary Care. She has more than 10 years of nursing experience in operating rooms, pediatrics, outpatient orthopedics, medical floors and in family medicine. Sage’s walk-in clinic is from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, no appointment necessary.