Learn healthy tips and strategies to help guard against the seasonal flu – which generally peaks during the winter months
Flu season is beginning to peak in California, and early surveillance indicates the potential for a severe season due to constantly changing and emerging strains of the virus (i.e. H3N2 in 2014/15 and H1N1 in 2009). Outbreaks of the flu can occur as early as October and as late as May – this eight-month window is known as flu season.
What type of flu season is expected this year?
It’s impossible to predict how the current flu season will play out, however, we do know that the flu spreads every year during the same general timeframe (Oct. – May). So it’s very important to use preventive measures to limit your exposure to the virus during this time.
When should I get vaccinated against the flu?
The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive the vaccine as early as possible – usually in October or November depending on supply. It can take up to two weeks for the antibodies to develop in the body and fully protect against the flu virus. If you haven’t received the flu shot, please do so as quickly as possible to maximize its effectiveness for the current season.
What additional measures can I take to protect myself and my family from the flu?
When it comes to a virus like the flu, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Preventive measures to guard against the flu virus include:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water.
- Eat a rainbow of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal.
- Play outside with your children as much as you can.
- Teach your children to sneeze and cough into the crooks of their elbows.
- Avoid touching your eyes, face and nose.
- Keep your children home from school when they are sick.
- Stay home from work when you are ill.
- If you or your children are sick, limit their contact with others.
If you are at high risk for flu-related complications and experience flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. Your provider can prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started within two days of the onset of flu symptoms.
Visit bchd.org/flu-watch for more information about the 2015-16 flu season.