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Tips for National Influenza Vaccination Week

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week in the U.S. Established by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2005, this week highlights the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holidays and beyond. Vaccines against the flu are the best defense against the virus and developing flu-related complications.

 

The CDC holds National Influenza Vaccination Week in December as vaccinations tend to drop quickly after the end of November, leaving many vulnerable during the holiday season. Going on vacation or having relatives visiting from afar can expose people to different strains of the flu than what they have built a immune response to, which can spread illness for those unprotected. The flu vaccine protects against multiple strains of the flu viruses. Yearly vaccinations are recommended because flu viruses are always changing, and each year the vaccine is updated to better match circulating influenza strains.

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu vaccine every season. Children younger than 2 years old, or children with health problems such as asthma, diabetes, or other chronic conditions are at the highest risk of severe complications of the flu and should get the flu shot. The best way to protect infants under 6 months old is to surround them with people who have been vaccinated.

 

vaccinationAmid reports that the flu vaccine is less effective than usual this year, NeedyMeds is offering more tips to stay healthy in the midst of cold and flu season.

  1. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow. This will reduce the spread of germs through touching objects or one’s face.

  2. Wash hands often, especially after blowing your nose or coughing. The CDC suggests washing using warm water and soap, and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds and drying with a single-use towel.

  3. Regularly disinfect common surfaces in your home that your family touches every day, including countertops, telephones, computers, faucets, and doorknobs.

  4. Ensure you and your family eats a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, gets plenty of rest, and exercises regularly. These steps will keep your immune system in prime shape to help fight off illness.

  5. Know the difference between a cold and the flu. The flu generally comes on strong with severe symptoms, including fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, cough, runny/stuffy nose, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and fatigue. Although colds can exhibit some of the same symptoms, they usually are not as severe and often do not last as long.

  6. It’s also important to know the difference between a cold and seasonal allergies. With the similarities in symptoms, it can be easy to self-medicate for the wrong condition.

    • With a cold, you’re likely to wake up with a sore, painful throat. With allergies, the throat has more of an itch or tickle rather than soreness.

    • Colds follow a relatively slow progression and last for a few days, whereas allergies can come on almost instantly, with symptoms of coughing, sneezing, and congestion striking all at once and can last as long as allergens are in the environment—sometimes a matter of hours, other times for weeks.

    • Sneezing with itchy eyes or mouth are associated with allergies rather than colds.

    • Fevers can appear with colds, but do not affect those suffering from allergies.

    • It’s important to know you don’t have both a cold and allergies, as this can lead to chronic sinus problems if left untreated.

  7. Stay home from school or work if you or your child are sick.

 

For those in need of assistance procuring the influenza vaccine our database of free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics has information on over 5500 clinics that offer immunization services. Search your ZIP code to find medical clinics near you that may offer free or low-cost immunizations. Another resource is a web tool called HealthMap Vaccine Finder that shows pharmacies near you that are administering flu shots. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can help with the price of prescribed medicines, even over-the-counter decongestants or fever-reducers. The free discount card is also available as a printable download and in the NeedyMeds Storylines app for iPhone and Android. NeedyMeds also has information on over 1,900 coupons and rebates offered for medications or medical supplies that can be searched by category (such as Cold/Flu or Allergies) or product name.

 

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