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Add a flu shot to your fall traditions

Communications Specialist Steve Metcalf
by Steve Metcalf10/23/2019 12:22 p.m.
Updated: 11/15/2019

Each year when autumn rolls around, we look forward to fall colors, football, and flu shots. While you might not enjoy taking the kids—or yourself—in for a flu shot, it’s the best way to prevent the flu. And the flu can be a very serious illness.

Flu is more than just a bad cold.

Getting the flu can make you miserable, with high fever, cough, muscle aches, and headache. You or your loved ones can lose time from work, school, and activities you enjoy. Last season in Pierce County, the flu made 671 people so sick they had to be hospitalized. And 42 people died.

Some people are at high risk of getting very sick from the flu:

  • People 65 or older.
  • Children younger than 5, especially those under 2.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with health conditions, like:
    • Asthma.
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
    • Diabetes.
    • Heart disease.
    • Compromised immunity.

 2019 Flu Facts Infographic with information about the flu in Pierce County during the 2018-2019 flu season and how to stay healthy.

Create a circle of protection around people at high risk.

Everyone should get a flu shot. It’s the neighborly thing to do to protect yourself and those around you. Even if you consider yourself very healthy, you never know when you may encounter someone who’s at high risk. And a mild illness in you could still spread to others—and make someone else very sick.

This is especially important if you’re around a baby. Vaccination is not an option for babies younger than 6 months. They depend on you for protection against the flu.

Who should get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for everyone older than 6 months, unless you are severely allergic or have had Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The first time children younger than 9 get a flu shot, they need a second flu shot 1 month later.

If you’re 65 or older, you can get any kind of flu shot. But companies make 2 kinds, especially for older adults. Fluzone High Dose® is higher strength and FluAd® has ingredients to boost effectiveness. If you’re 65 or older, ask for one of these flu shots.

Get a flu shot every year.

The flu shot is your best protection against the virus. Get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available. Each year, manufacturers make a vaccine from flu viruses we expect to circulate during the season. For the best protection, you should get a flu shot before flu activity starts. In the Pacific Northwest, flu activity is usually at the highest level in January or February and can go longer.

It’s never too late to get a flu shot. You can get one any time during flu season. Keep in mind flu vaccines take 2 weeks to reach full protection.

Take care of your health.

It causes fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches. With a few days of bed rest and plenty of fluids, most people recover at home. It’s always good to:

  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you get sick. Washington’s Paid Sick Leave Law allows you to take paid time off to take care of your health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org/paidsickleave.

If you get a flu shot and still get sick, the vaccine can lessen the severity and duration of your illness. To recover:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Stay home and get plenty of rest.
  • Take aspirin-free pain and fever-reducing medicine if you need it. 

Everyone’s health situation is different. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of complications or you are concerned about your illness, contact your healthcare provider for advice.

Along with fall foliage and football Sundays, make a flu shot part of your seasonal tradition. Learn more, including where to get a flu shot, at www.tpchd.org/flu.

  1. Updated: 11/15/2019
  2. Updated: 10/25/2019
  3. Updated: 10/24/2019
Communications Specialist Steve Metcalf

by Steve Metcalf

Steve helps share timely and relevant public health information.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.