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Flu prevention even more important this year


September 24, 2020

By Karleen C. Benavides, RN BSPH

Every year, getting your flu vaccine is an important part of protecting yourself and others. But the 2020-21 flu season presents an unusual set of circumstances that make influenza prevention even more important. Getting sick with the flu will lower your immune system and can make you more susceptible to other infections, including COVID-19.

Influenza and COVID-19 are infectious respiratory diseases that present their own potentially serious consequences. The one-two punch of getting sick with both of these illnesses at the same time could be disastrous. The immune systems of the general public have taken a hit because of the stress of pandemic-related social and economic circumstances and the decline of immune-building activities such as routine, moderate exercise and consumption of nutritious fresh foods. It is crucial at this time to engage in as many immune building and disease preventing activities as possible.

Immune building activities include eating fresh produce, exercising moderately at least 30 minutes each day, drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day, breathing clean outdoor air, absorbing sunlight for vitamin D production, limitation of tobacco and alcohol, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Talk with your primary care provider about increasing your daily immune building activities.

Currently the most effective disease prevention is immunization. While there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, we do have the influenza vaccine. It has been released for this year and is currently available. Other flu prevention activities are the same as COVID-19 prevention: hand hygiene, physical distancing, and wearing masks. Monitor your health carefully and talk with your primary care provider if you have any questions, and get your flu shot this year!

Karleen C. Benavides in an RN BSPH and Employee Health & Safety / Assistant Infection Preventionist for the Columbia County Health System.


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