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What you need to know about the 2019-2020 flu season

How can you protect yourself for the 2019 flu season? Piedmont family medicine physician Sabrina Wyllie-Adams, M.D., explains what you need to know about flu for the months ahead.

How severe will the upcoming flu season be?

Physicians and other experts aren’t yet certain how the flu season will shape up, Dr. Wyllie-Adams says. The season extends at least from fall through winter, but it sometimes lasts into spring as well.

With several months of flu activity still ahead, the best thing you can do now is get a flu shot, Dr. Wyllie-Adams says. Even if you had one last year, you need another one for the new season.

“With every season, the strains change,” she explains. The vaccination is reformulated each year to protect against those new strains.

When should you get your flu shot?

You should get your flu shot as soon as possible. Flu activity often starts to increase in October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and you want to be prepared.

“It takes about two weeks to build up immunity after receiving the vaccine,” Dr. Wyllie-Adams says. If you don’t get a shot early in the season, though, there’s still time to get one later.

“You will still get some protection for the rest of the flu season,” she says.

Getting a flu shot is beneficial for both you and other people. When you’re vaccinated against the illness, you’ll help protect those who are most at risk of dying from flu (like young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems).

Is the flu shot safe?

The flu shot is very safe, Dr. Wyllie-Adams says. However, there are still plenty of misconceptions around it.

  • False: Getting a flu shot can give you the flu. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine, which contains only small or inactivated parts of the flu virus.
  • False: You shouldn’t get the flu shot if you have an egg allergy. The CDC recommends that people with egg allergies still receive the shot.

What are other ways to protect yourself from flu?

The most important step you can take is getting a flu shot, but you should also practice good hygiene and take special care in shared spaces. Dr. Wyllie-Adams recommends the following:

  • Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Throw away used tissues right away.
  • Wipe down all surfaces.
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer.

What are the symptoms of flu?

Dr. Wyllie-Adams says to look out for these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

If you experience any of those symptoms, see your doctor right away. The sooner you’re treated for flu, the lower your chances are of experiencing serious complications.

Because the flu is so contagious, you’ll want to give your body a chance to recuperate. Dr. Wyllie-Adams recommends taking at least 4-5 days (after the onset of symptoms) off from school or work if you can, but if that isn’t possible, wait until you’ve experienced 24 hours without a fever. If you need to use medicine like Tylenol to break the fever, you’re still not well yet and should continue staying home.

Ready to get your flu shot? Piedmont offers shots at more than 120 locations. Book now and get protected.

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