It’s not too late to get your flu shot. Each year the vaccine is updated based on which influenza viruses are making people sick. COURTESY PHOTO, MultiCare

It’s not too late to get your flu shot. Each year the vaccine is updated based on which influenza viruses are making people sick. COURTESY PHOTO, MultiCare

Flu activity is increasing – here’s how to protect yourself

  • Thursday, January 4, 2018 1:31pm
  • Life

By MultiCare Health System

Flu activity is low but increasing in our state, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

It’s not too late to get your flu shot, the best protection against the flu. The more people who get vaccinated, the more who will be protected from the flu, including those with weaker immune systems such as older adults, very young children, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.

Flu activity typically peaks between December and March.

Why get the flu shot now?

If you haven’t had a flu shot and you’re exposed to the flu virus, you won’t know for a day or two that you’re sick — and during those two days, you’re infectious.

Even though flu activity is low in the United States right now, it’s best to get your flu shot early to give it time to be effective.

The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu virus, which cannot give you infection. This prompts an immune response — that is, your body recognizes something foreign and reacts by producing antibodies to get rid of it.

If you’re later exposed to the live virus, your body will be able to recognize it and quickly launch an immune attack to kill the virus. This immune response takes a period of time to fully develop, which is why it’s important to get the flu shot early.

And because flu viruses are constantly changing, each year the vaccine is updated based on which influenza viruses are making people sick. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot every year.

Be sure to get a shot, not the nasal spray. The FluMist vaccine is no longer recommended by the CDC because of concerns about its effectiveness.

Who should get the flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

What else can I do to protect myself?

In addition to a flu shot, be sure to wash your hands regularly – it’s one of the most effective steps against illness.

Also:

• Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are sick

• Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze

• Avoid touching your eyes and nose, as this is how flu viruses spread

• Stay home and rest if you get sick

Where can I get my flu shot?

MultiCare offers flu shots for both adults and children at a wide range of locations throughout the Puget Sound and Inland Northwest regions.

MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 employees, providers and volunteers. It was been caring for the community for well over a century, since the founding of Tacoma’s first hospital.

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