Words of Wellness: Now is the Time to Get Your Flu Shot

16 Oct 2019 Kelly Mingo
Kelly Wingo (CHES®) is an Atlanta transplant, a soccer mom and a wife, and an academic advisor and instructor for the public health program at the University of Alabama. She lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Jonathan, her daughter, Maya, and a lovely golden retriever named Ellie Mae.  Kelly Wingo (CHES®) is an Atlanta transplant, a soccer mom and a wife, and an academic advisor and instructor for the public health program at the University of Alabama. She lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Jonathan, her daughter, Maya, and a lovely golden retriever named Ellie Mae. Kelly Mingo

Ah fall.  SEC match ups, pumpkin spice, cooler temperatures, and colorful trees are germane to this wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, there’s something else associated with fall: the flu.   

Influenza, or the “flu,” is caused by a highly contagious virus that infects the upper respiratory system and sometimes the lungs. The unpleasant symptoms of the flu can be quite debilitating and cause you to miss out on a week or more of work or school as well as recreational activities. Who can afford to do that? 

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Everyone 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine. The vaccine can significantly reduce your chances of getting the flu. It can also reduce the severity of the illness, and it prevents millions of doctors’ visits and tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. Bottom line: flu vaccines work.  

Access to the flu vaccine is widespread throughout our community.  Clinics, pharmacies, schools, and some workplaces offer free vaccines on site. The best time to get the flu vaccine is before it spreads in our community. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccine to adequately develop the antibodies that help you fight the virus. That’s why the CDC recommends getting the vaccine before the end of October. 

While most (unvaccinated) people who get the flu recover in less than two weeks without need of medical care, some groups are at increased risk of flu complications that can result in hospitalization and even death. Specific high-risk groups include adults 65 years and older, young children, and pregnant women. People with the following factors are also at increased risk:  asthma, obesity, kidney and liver disorders, and HIV.   

You may be generally healthy and not considered to be at high risk for flu complications. Maybe this has prevented you from getting flu vaccines in the past. However, you should seriously consider getting the flu vaccine anyway. If you were to get the flu, you may recover relatively well over time; but, you could easily pass it on to your child, your parents or grandparents, or a loved one with a weakened immune system who is at high risk. The best way to protect yourself and others is for you to get the flu vaccine. 

The flu is a serious illness. Everyone in Tuscaloosa and beyond is susceptible to the flu. The benefits of the flu vaccine far outweigh any barriers. Don’t let this nasty bug prevent you from watching a minute of SEC football or sipping pumpkin spice lattes from your back porch all glorious season long.   

Gain protection and reduce risk. Get your flu vaccine today. 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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