The conclusion of the recent holiday season provided more than a reason to reflect on festive moments spent with love ones or moments resulting in overspent money. It provided us a good reason to do everything to avoid the flu.
According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. By December, there were news reports from many media outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and NBC, noting that there was already a widespread flu outbreak between Oklahoma and Massachusetts. NPR recently reported that the CDC found the proportion of people running to the doctor reporting flu symptoms to be at its highest this season (a link to this NPR report is listed below). News reports also noted that this season’s flu vaccine may not be as effective as previous seasons’ vaccines for a particular strain of the influenza virus, namely H3N2. Nevertheless, the CDC and states’ public health departments are highly recommending that everyone gets vaccinated to minimize the acquisition of the flu. This is especially important for children and adults over the age of 50. The CDC, for instance, noted a study in the journal, Pediatrics, that reports that data, for the first time, “show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza” (see below for a link to this CDC report that links you to the article in Pediatrics).
If you have not received your influenza vaccination, consider doing so as a health-promoting step to starting off the New Year on a healthy note. You should certainly plan to do so as soon as possible in light of news reports underscoring the rampant spread of the virus. We need to also consider other health-promoting practices to minimize the flu (as well as the common cold). These include washing our hands, using hand sanitizer when we’re unable to wash our hands, and remembering to cover our mouth with our arm instead of our hands if we cough or sneeze. Of course, the importance of keeping our immune system strong is equally important to decrease the risk of contracting the flu. So remember to drink plenty of fluids, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, get adequate sleep, and make time to relax and enjoy leisure activities to minimize stress. And it goes without saying that if you suspect you have the flu or experience flu-like symptoms, consult your primary care provider.
Here are relevant web links:
- a list of antioxidant-rich foods: https://draxe.com/top-10-high-antioxidant-foods/
- a scientific examination of how antioxidants protect against the influenza virus: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029125538.htm
- NPR report (aired January 12, 2018): https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=577632089
- Stat News Report: https://www.statnews.com/2018/01/12/flu-season-cdc/
- NBC Report: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/cold-and-flu/flu-spreading-fast-year-severe-season-possible-n825911
- CDC report on children greatly benefiting from the flu vaccination: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0403-flu-vaccine.html
Wishing you a healthy, flu-free start to the new year.