While annual vaccines don’t always provide complete protection, the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older be inoculated. In fact, not only will you help yourself from becoming seriously ill, getting a shot can also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, such as infants, young children, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions. These include diabetics, as well as those suffering from lung and cardiac disease.
In fact, flu vaccination has actually been associated with reduced hospitalizations among diabetics by approximately 79%, and chronic lung disease by nearly 52%. In the meantime, a new study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) this past May showed that flu vaccination not only reduced admissions to the ICU (intensive care unit) as well as the overall duration of stays among hospitalized flu patients, not to mention lowering the death rate from severe infections.
The study examined data involving hospitalized flu patients during 2013-2014 and compared patients who had been inoculated to those who had not The greatest benefit was reported among individuals 65-years and older, who are reported to be at “ increased risk of serious flu complications and have the highest admissions rate among all age groups. In fact, researchers found that unvaccinated flu patients were “2-5 times more likely to die than someone who had been vaccinated. In addition, the CDC reported that pregnant women who were vaccinated were able to pass the antibodies on to their fetuses, which can help protect them for several months after birth as well.
This year’s flu shot has been created to protect against the H1N1 flu virus, in addition to two other influenza viruses that are expected to be in circulation during the 2017-2018 season. A vaccine that protects against four strains of the virus will also be available, as will a high-dose flu vaccine for over the age of 65.
Colds vs Flu
While early symptoms of influenza often resemble the common cold (except for runny noses) science has yet to come up with a vaccine to prevent (let alone cure) the common cold. Symptoms including chills, fever, headaches, sneezing, sore throats and coughin, however, can be treated with aspirin (ibuprofen) and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Antibiotics shouldn’t be employed. In the meantime, be sure to get plenty of bed rest and drink lots of fluids. Call your doctor if you have a fever, or any lung congestion.
Avoid getting sick
Although there have been more than 200 strains of viruses associated with colds, the most common are rhinovirusers, as well as human coronavirus, adenoviruses, and human respiratory syncytial virus, to name a few.
These are generally spread through close contact with infected people and contaminated objects, then touching your eyes, mouth and nose. While droplets or vapor in the air via coughing, sneezing and even talking by an infected person are often unavoidable (unless you wear a face mask), anything they may have touched can be infected with their germs. Some of the most common culprits are doorknobs, shopping cart handles at the supermarket, sports equipment, towels, kitchen counters and keyboards, etc. Even a shared pen can spread germs rapidly. Remember, cold and flu viruses can live outside the body for up to 72 hours. As a result, be sure to wipe down shared items with disinfectant before using them.
While the best way to avoid getting sick is to stay away from sick people, the next best way is to wash your hands briskly with soap and water for 30 seconds after touching non-sterile items. Additional ways to stave off becoming ill are eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, taking Vitamin D3, getting plenty of sleep and doing aerobic exercises regularly. It is also important to keep your stress levels down.
Note: Common colds are most contagious in the first 2-3 days, and become less each day thereafter. By the 7th-10th day there’s little chance of contagion. Once you catch a cold, however, it can take anywhere from 12-hours to a few days before symptoms appear.