Home > Protect you and your family from the flu this fall-Expert advice from Dr. Rhonda M. Johnson

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Protect you and your family from the flu this fall
Expert advice from Dr. Rhonda M. Johnson
As your calendar starts to fill up with fall activities, make sure to include flu shots on your family’s list of things to do. Here are the five reasons I get a flu shot and make sure my family does too:
1. It helps us stay well. If you have ever had the flu, you know how awful you feel. Flu symptoms usually start suddenly and include fatigue, fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and body and muscle aches that can last about two weeks.
2. It protects our loved ones. The flu virus is highly contagious. We put ourselves at risk for getting the flu and spreading it to those around us if we don’t get a flu shot.
3. It helps us stay active. If we get the flu, we miss out on things that are important to us. It takes time away from work or school and other activities we enjoy.
4. It’s safe. Flu vaccines have a very good safety record. Serious reactions are very rare. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
5. It saves lives. African-Americans experience more long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease than other groups. Having any one of these conditions can increase our risk of getting life-threatening complications from the flu.
Won’t you join me in getting a flu shot this year? Here is some more information about influenza and how to keep you and your family healthy this upcoming flu season.
What is flu?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and, at times, can lead to death.
Many people don't know if they are at high risk for complications from influenza. Some of the people who are at higher risk for complications from influenza include:
•  People with asthma
•  People with
Adults 65 and older
Pregnant women
•  People who have
•  People who have
Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
Do flu shots cause the flu?
No, a flu shot does not cause flu illness. The flu vaccine contains inactivated (killed) viruses, which means they cannot cause infection. During flu season, other viruses that cause colds and flu-like symptoms are circulating. The flu vaccine will not protect people from these other viruses.
Where and when can I get a flu shot?
  • You can get a flu shot from your physician or health care provider. Also, many local pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments offer the flu shot. Some employers offer flu shots or discounts on the vaccination.
  • The flu season is unpredictable. I try to have my family vaccinated in the early fall. Most flu seasons peak in January and February, but if you have not been vaccinated by Thanksgiving (or the end of November), it can still be protective to get vaccinated in December or later.
Protect you and your family this fall and all year long
The following preventive measures can also help protect you and your family from the flu and germs in general.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Flu germs spread this way.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
·        If you are sick with flu -like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
·        While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
For more information about the influenza virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/flu. If you are a Highmark member, login to the member website to learn more about keeping healthy this fall. www.highmarkbcbs.com
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