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Preparing for Flu Season

flu-season-croppedFall is upon us, and with it comes beautiful weather, fall foliage, sweet smells of pumpkins and apples…oh, and the start of flu season.

The typical flu season occurs between October and May, peaking between December and February. Because of this large window, it’s important to get protected before flu season begins.

Receiving a flu vaccine by October helps defend against this respiratory illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends yearly flu vaccines for those six months and older. Even if you feel you never get sick and don’t need the vaccine, be sure to think about those around you who may catch it from you if you do happen to get sick.

The flu is frequently mistaken for the common cold, so it’s important to know the difference between the two. According to WebMD, congestion, sore throat, and sneezing are common with colds. Both cold and flu bring coughing, headache, and chest discomfort. With the flu though, you are likely to run a high fever for several days and have body aches, fatigue, and weakness. A severe case of the flu can even lead to a life-threatening illness, such as pneumonia.

Harvard Medical School recently shared an article that outlined some of the most common flu vaccine myths. I found it extremely interesting, as I hear people talking about some of these quite often. Below are a few I wanted to share.

  • Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu.
    Flu vaccines are made with inactivated viruses, and therefore are not infectious. It takes a week or two for the vaccine to take effect and for you to be protected against the virus. Although the vaccine is not 100% effective, it does reduce your risk of getting sick, and may also make your illness milder if you do.
  • Myth: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to prevent the flu.
    Besides receiving a vaccination, be sure to also avoid contact with those who have the flu, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and consider taking anti-viral medications if you were exposed to the flu prior to your vaccination. Do you know the proper way to wash your hands? Rinse your hands first with water, and then lather with soap for at least 20 seconds (or two rounds of “Happy Birthday”), and rinse well.
  • Myth: Feed a cold, starve a fever.
    If you have either the flu or a cold accompanied by a fever, your body needs more fluids. Even though you may not have an appetite, “starving” yourself won’t do you any good. Be sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids, such as water, juice and soup.
  • Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
    Approximately 20-30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.

At Faith Technologies, we offer a variety of ways for employees and their family members to receive the flu vaccine at no cost. Individuals who elect medical coverage through Faith Technologies are able to receive a vaccine at no cost, as long as they are seen by an in-network provider in an office setting.

In addition, our Vaccine Reimbursement Policy reimburses employees and their dependents for a vaccine if they choose to receive a vaccine in a retail setting such, as local pharmacies or health departments. We are also starting to offer more on-site flu clinics as the opportunity arises at some of our branch offices during our fall biometric screenings.

Please be sure to consult with your primary care physician should you have any questions or concerns about receiving the flu vaccine.