Flu activity increased again last week and the flu remains widespread throughout the United States. And according to CDC, flu activity is likely to remain elevated for several more weeks. So what can you do? Here are some steps that you can take to prevent the flu:
Get your flu shot!
- It’s still not too late to get a flu shot. Everyone 6 months and older should get their flu shot every year.
- CDC recommends that everyone, 6 months and older, get a flu shot, especially people who are at high risk of developing serious complications. This includes:
- Children younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated but are still at high risk of serious flu complications. Make sure that you and anyone else who cares for your baby is vaccinated.
- A flu shot may make your illness milder if you do get the flu. A flu shot can also reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
Prevent the spread of germs.
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue away after you’ve used it.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
- If you’re sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that can be contaminated with germs.
Take antivirals if they are prescribed.
- If you get the flu, antiviral medications can make your flu milder and help you to feel better faster.
- Antivirals can also help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.
- Antivirals work best if you take them within 2 days of having symptoms.
- If your baby is at high risk for flu, his provider may prescribe an antiviral as soon as he begins to have flu symptoms. All children younger than 5 are at high risk for flu, especially children younger than 2. Children who were born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or who have chronic health conditions, like asthma or sickle cell disease, also are at high risk.
- In the U.S, there are two medicines approved for preventing or treating the flu in pregnant women, women who recently had a baby, and children.
- Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®). This can be used in children as young as 2 weeks.
- Zanamivir (brand name Relenza®). This is approved for individuals older than 5. This medicine is a powder that you breathe in by mouth. It isn’t recommended for people with breathing problems, like asthma.
If you or your baby have any signs or symptoms of the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, call your health care provider right away. Early treatment can help to prevent serious flu complications.