With chilly weather setting in and leaves falling, there’s no denying what is right around the corner: Flu Season 2012. Though you can actually get flu any time of the year (and in any weather), traditionally flu virus spreads quickest and is at its peak potency during the cooler months of the late fall and winter time. With that in mind, here are some fast facts about flu – pay attention, they might save you a lot of discomfort down the road.

  • According to the dedicated Flu section on the CDC website, you can pass the flu virus before you ever know that you yourself are sick – a full day before symptoms even begin, extending through a week or so after symptoms start. With a contagiousness period of over a week, that helps explain how flu season can be so stubborn for those of us who just want to stay well.
  • Flu seasons are unpredictable in their severity and duration, as well as which strains of flu virus are spreading and how much flu vaccine is available to the public.
  • Groups most susceptible to severe flu and greater complications from the flu include elderly people, small children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. Also, persons living in nursing homes or other care facilities are at a greater risk for severe flu complications. Though not common, flu can be severe or even fatal.
  • This probably isn’t news to most of us, but the best way to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated. With several varieties of flu shots (detailed here) available to people who want to stay healthy and well, there’s no reason to avoid a flu shot unless your doctor instructs you differently.
  • Aside from vaccination, the silver bullet in terms of flu prevention, there are other small steps towards better hygiene that can keep you and your loved ones safe. These include regular hand-washing with antibacterial soap or use of an antibacterial gel, covering your mouth and nose with your arm whenever you cough or sneeze, and avoiding sharing drinks or food with others.
  • There are many non-health incentives to getting your flu shot nowadays. Many insurance plans automatically cover the cost of your flu shot, for starters.
  • You can make an appointment or be a walk-in at Valley Healthcare System to get a flu shot for only $22.
  • Many schools, hospital systems, and government buildings host regular clinics where you can obtain a low-cost, effective flu shot from professionals just like you’d find at your doctor’s office.

In other words, there’s no excuse to avoid a flu shot because you think you don’t need it or can’t afford it – you do, and you can! Visit www.valleyhealthcolumbus.com or call (706)322-9599 for more information.

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