Beat the Flu this Season

Stephanie Sobol, MAEd – Health Educator

The Centers for Disease Control report that annually up to 20% of the population is diagnosed with flu.  Most people who get the flu experience mild illness, do not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and recover in less than two weeks.  This is all good news! However, there are some people more likely to develop flu complications that result in hospitalization and occasionally death.

High-Risk Populations

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks post partum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Also, American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications.
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as asthma
  • Health care workers or others living with or caring for high-risk populations

The best way to protect you and your loved ones from flu is to get an annual flu vaccine.  Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine before flu season hits.  Vaccination may reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school.

Simple Steps to Prevent the Spread of Flu

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds each time. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, such as door handles, keyboards, etc., that may be contaminated with germs.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Keep your immune system strong – get enough sleep, be active daily, eat nutritious foods at each meal and keep stress low.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.  Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

For the most up-to-date flu information this season, go to

Interested in bringing this topic to your school or organization?  The Poe Center offers several related programs through our General Health curriculum.  Come to the Center, or our health educators can come to you.  Plan a program with Poe today.