By Submitted Story on November 4, 2020
Are you experiencing “caution fatigue”? It’s what happens when we hear the same warnings over and over again. For months we’ve been advised to wear a mask, wait six feet apart from others, and wash our hands regularly. As a result of the repeated warnings, we may find ourselves desensitized and becoming lax about complying, which can put us at risk for contracting COVID-19.
But now is not the time to let our guard down, especially because flu season is upon us. The good habits we’ve developed during the pandemic will serve us well in the effort to remain flu free.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Cases can be mild to severe and may lead to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is spread mainly by tiny droplets created by people with flu when they cough, talk, or sneeze.
Sounds a lot like COVID-19, right?
The truth is the symptoms can be similar and it’s difficult to distinguish flu from other viral or bacterial respiratory illnesses based solely on symptoms. Ultimately testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Unlike COVID-19, the good news is that there’s a vaccine for the flu and it has been modified to match what is expected to be circulating in the United States this season. The most important first step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. Annual flu vaccination helps the body create an immune response to the flu virus. While the flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, there are many important benefits, including reduced risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
Second are those safety habits we call the three Ws (WEAR, WAIT, WASH) that we’ve been practicing to help us prevent the spread of COVID-19. They can help stop the spread of the flu virus as well.
The third line of defense is making healthy lifestyle choices to keep our immune response strong.
The job of our body’s immune system is to protect us from viruses and bacteria. When it is working, viruses and toxins have a tough time getting into the body. But when the immune system isn’t operating properly, it can’t effectively stop these enemies.
1. Get the flu vaccine.
2. Practice the three Ws.
3.Make healthy lifestyle choices.
The Outer Banks Hospital is offering free drive-thru flu clinics this fall for individuals ages 18-64. Click here to register.