October brings many great things: sweater weather, holidays, and pumpkin desserts name just a few. However, the fall also brings flu season.

Although flu season just started, flu-related illnesses have already been reported. It’s important to be prepared. If you’re not already convinced you need a flu shot, read on to find out why you should get one this season.

 

What is the flu?

The flu, also known as influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness that can infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms often include a fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, cough, fatigue, and headaches. Flu symptoms are very similar to those of a common cold, and it’s easy to confuse the two when you start to feel sick. To help differentiate, flu symptoms typically appear suddenly and are more severe.

Still having a hard time telling the difference between cold and flu symptoms? Try asking yourself these questions: Do you feel like you can’t get out of bed? Does your entire body ache? Do you have extreme fatigue and a high fever? If the answer is yes to those questions, you likely have the flu. According to Dr. Lapado from the UCLA Medical Center, “The flu is like a cold on steroids…if you don’t feel horrible, you probably don’t have the flu.”

 

I’m over 65. Why does the flu affect me differently?

As we get older, our immune systems get weaker. It’s just a part of life! A weaker immune system results in a lower ability to fight off viruses.

For many years, the CDC has warned that individuals over the age of 65 are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu. According to a 2013 study, approximately 70 to 90% of flu-related deaths occur in people over the age of 65. While most people who get the flu won’t need to seek medical care and will recover within 1 to 2 weeks, adults over 65 have a higher risk of experiencing serious flu complications. These complications can include pneumonia and bronchitis. Luckily, thanks to modern medicine, the flu can be prevented by getting a yearly flu shot.

 

What is the best way to prevent the flu?

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a yearly flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is updated each year to protect against the most probable flu strains. The yearly vaccine is developed, based off of research, and is continually updated with the growing knowledge of flu strains. By getting your yearly flu shot, you not only decrease your chances of getting sick, but you can help reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus to other people.

While a flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu, there are some other preventive actions you can take:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat healthy, and drink lots of water.
  • Stay physically active.

Combined with a flu shot, good health habits can help stop the spread of germs and keep you healthy!

 

When is the best time to get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October. According to Dr. Margakis, the Senior Director of Infection Protection at The John Hopkins Health System, getting the flu shot before November “gives your body time to react to the vaccine and build up immunity” before the virus starts to circulate.

Although October is the recommended month, don’t feel like you can’t get the vaccine if you miss that deadline! The vaccine will still be effective if you get the flu shot later in the year.

 

Where is the flu shot available?

The flu shot if offered at a lot of locations. You have options! Some of them are even free with valid health insurance. Here are some places to consider:

  • Your doctor’s office
  • An urgent care center
  • Your local hospital
  • Your local pharmacy (Walgreens, CVS, etc.)
  • Some local stores (Target, Walmart, etc.)

If you want a flu shot but don’t know where to go, the CDC recommends using Vaccine Finder to find a location near you.

 

In Conclusion

Although most cases of the flu won’t require seeking advanced medical care and can be treated with some rest, it’s important to be knowledgeable and prepared. The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, and it can be administered at many local places. So, head down to your local pharmacy or hospital, and get your flu shot today! Stay healthy, and enjoy your holiday season.

Decker Retirement Planning Inc. is a registered investment advisor in the state of Washington. Our investment advisors may not transact business in states unless appropriately registered or excluded or exempted from such registration. We are registered as an investment advisor in WA, ID, UT, CA, NV and TX. We can provide investment advisory services in these states and other states where we are exempted from registration.