It’s that time of year again, flu season is upon us. No one wants to get sick and experience the debilitating symptoms of the flu, and luckily there are many things you can do to reduce your risk. Following healthy habits, including washing hands frequently, maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and getting adequate sleep, can bolster your immune system and help prevent your catching the flu or decreasing its impact if you do get sick.
Another way to help protect yourself from the flu and its complications, such a pneumonia, is by getting vaccinated. The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of six months get the annual influenza vaccine, with rare exceptions. Certain people are especially vulnerable to influenza and are prioritized for vaccination, including children aged six months to four years, people over 50 years of age, women who are or will be pregnant during flu season, residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, health care personnel, and those with compromised immune systems and chronic disorders.
Pneumococcal disease is a relatively common complication of the flu, especially in individuals over the age of 65 and those with certain health conditions. It is a bacterial disease that can lead to serious infections in the lungs, blood and brain. There is also a vaccine for this potentially deadly disease, and the CDC recommends it for children under the age of five, seniors over the age of 65, as well as those with certain risk factors.
Developing or maintaining healthy habits to strengthen your immune system are beneficial all year long. Vaccinations provide additional protection from infection from the flu, pneumococcal disease and other serious threats and illnesses.
Remember, you should always discuss your personal situation and needs, including the pros and cons of possible vaccinations, with your doctor.