Have you had your flu shot?

It’s not too late to still get a flu shot. Flu season typically runs from October until February, but influenza can be contracted at any time of the year.

Have you seen the news lately showing that many states are experiencing epidemic levels of the flu this year? You might be telling yourself that there’s no reason to get a flu shot now because you’ll end up with the flu anyway. While that may be true, you should still be immunized. The current strain of influenza spreading across the states is a hybrid of one strain in the flu shot. Even if you contract that virus, you will most likely experience milder symptoms if you have been vaccinated.

Each year the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determines what three or four strains of influenza are likely to be most prevalent during the flu season. These are the strains that are then combined into that year’s influenza vaccination. There are some years, like this year when a flu virus will unexpectedly become rampant that was not part of the original vaccine. But having had the immunization will still help protect you.

What else can you do to protect yourself? Whether you’ve had the flu shot or chosen not to, there are still good health hygiene practices that you can practice to lower your chance of “catching” a virus, whether it’s the flu or the common cold.

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following healthy practices:

  • Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands! We can’t stress this enough. The simple act of washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water will remove most bacteria and viruses. This practice alone will reduce your risk of contracting the common cold, the flu virus or any of the many bacteria that causes foodborne illness.
  • Plan and eat healthy meals every day. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your daily meals to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to fight off infections, keeping your immune system strong.
  •  Limit foods high in fat, salt and sugar. These foods will not strengthen your immune system.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water to stay hydrated. While fruit juice has vitamins and minerals, it’s also high in sugar, so limit your juice to one serving per day. Avoid or limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol.
  • Practice daily physical activity. Try to do something every day: Take a walk, put on music and dance or stand and sit down during commercials.

Help stop the spread of the influenza virus and lower your risk of contracting the flu by making an appointment today to get your flu shot today.

For more information on living a healthy lifestyle, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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