5 Tips To Stay Flu-Free This Season
Updated: Mar 10
By Gabi Lara, Outreach Specialist at Florida Healthy Kids Corporation
As the cool of autumn gives way to winter chill (at least by Florida standards), lower temperatures mean it's time to welcome back bonfires, pumpkin patches, hot cocoa and warm sweaters. It also means the return of flu season!
With COVID-19 still at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s easy to overlook the need to prevent seasonal flu. Last year’s flu season was almost non-existent because everyone was concentrating on preventive measures, including masks, to fight the spread of COVID-19. The influenza virus had an unprecedented low profile, and as a result many communities failed to build immunity to it.
Now more than ever, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your family safe. That's why Florida KidCare is working hard to make sure everyone in our program is properly protected and flu-free this year.
While there’s no guaranteed way to entirely avoid the flu, there are many ways to minimize exposure, build up immunity and reduce the risk of infection. These include:
1. KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of the seasonal flu can be similar to those of the common cold, so it’s important to be aware of the virus’ most frequent symptoms so you can seek proper treatment.
While symptoms may vary for each person, the most common are:
Loss of appetite
People with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their symptoms begin, and they’re most likely to spread the virus to others by sneezing, coughing or talking.
2. WASH YOUR HANDS
While it may just seem like a simple task, regularly washing your hands with soap and water is key to staying safe and healthy this flu season. Throughout the day, people come in contact with countless surfaces that may hold harmful bacteria and viruses. If you touch your eyes, mouth or nose without washing your hands first, you’re putting yourself and others at risk for illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a step-by-step process to correctly wash your hands. Follow these five steps to minimize your chances of catching the flu:
Wet your hands with clean running water, turn off the water and apply soap.
Lather all parts of your hands.
Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
Rinse your hands under clean running water.
Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry.
3. STAY HOME IF YOU FEEL SICK
Because of the pandemic, over the past year and a half, many Floridians have gotten used to staying at home when they feel sick. However, many people still have the mentality of “powering through” sickness so they can continue their regular routine. This mindset can put many people at risk of getting sick.
It’s critical to take charge of your health by getting the adequate amount of time to rest and heal your body. The CDC recommends not returning to work or school until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing medications.
4. COVER YOUR MOUTH
Since the flu spreads mainly through droplets generated by sneezing or coughing, it’s important to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow. Sneezing or coughing into your elbow helps reduce the spread of germs by preventing the droplets from being propelled into the air.
When you sneeze or cough into your hands, the germs will then spread to everything you touch. Covering your mouth with a tissue or your elbow is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the flu.
5. GET THE FLU VACCINE
Getting a flu vaccine is the single most effective way to keep yourself and others protected from the virus. The seasonal flu shot keeps you safe from flu-causing viruses, and the CDC recommends that everyone at least six months old get the annual shot. Backed by extensive research, the flu vaccine has a good safety record and has proven to be effective for developing immunity against the virus.
If you are still unsure about the flu vaccine, it’s important to express any vaccine hesitancy to your doctor and ask questions that allow you to feel more comfortable about being vaccinated.
With schools back to in-person learning, children are more susceptible than ever to harmful illnesses. Vaccinations are key to keeping your child and family safe this flu season.
Fortunately, Florida KidCare offers participating children flu vaccinations for free or just a $5 copay. With flu season in full swing, low-cost immunizations are just one of the many benefits of Florida KidCare. To learn more about the benefits of Florida KidCare and how you can stay safe from the flu, visit here: https://www.floridakidcare.org/