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It’s flu season, and while it may seem like the flu spreads like wildfire every year, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Linda Halbrook, MD, a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, recommends the following steps to stay healthy this winter.
1. Get your flu shot. “Vaccination is the best protection against the flu,” Dr. Halbrook says. “Plus, when we get the vaccine, we are also helping to protect those who can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons or babies who are too young for the vaccine.”
It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated. Those older than 65 should get the Fluzone® high-dose vaccine, Dr. Halbrook says.
Afraid of shots? Healthy individuals between ages 2 and 49 may have the option of FluMist®, a flu vaccine sprayed into the nose, Dr. Halbrook says.
She adds there are some possible side effects with the flu vaccine, such as mild pain at the site and low-grade fever, but the benefits outweigh the risks in most people. If you have had problems with the flu vaccine in the past or you have an egg allergy, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
2. Avoid people who are ill. Germs travel quickly, so if you know someone who is sick, avoid contact. If you can’t avoid them, wear a mask. “Especially if you have a chronic condition or a suppressed immune system,” Dr. Halbrook says, “it’s best to avoid large crowds, like those at malls or concerts, during the height of flu season.”
3. Wash your hands. “It can’t be said enough,” Dr. Halbrook says. “Wash, wash, wash your hands.” The cleaner your hands are, the less likely you are to spread the flu—remember, all it takes for germs to enter your body is a rub of your eye, nose or mouth.
Is it a cold or flu? Learn more about the symptoms of the cold and the flu with our story, “Is It Just a Cold or Something More?” Talk with your doctor about flu prevention techniques. Click here for a referral to a physician on the Baylor Plano medical staff.
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