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By Rebecca Fending
Each year, flu season creeps up in hopes of putting a damper on holiday festivities. And this year, folks may be even more wary of the flu given the ongoing public health crisis that started back in March. Fear not, there are several ways you can keep yourself and those around you safe from this year’s strain.
Jorge Diaz, PharmD, Pharmacy Manager at CVS Pharmacy, has the answers to what to expect this year and what you can do to stay well, even in the peak of flu season.
When is the peak?
When it comes to the true peak of flu season, the timeline may be surprising. “Flu season typically peaks in January or February,” according to Jorge. “However, it’s important to remember that it takes up to two weeks after getting your flu shot for immunity to build up, so individuals should plan to get their flu shot as soon as possible if they have not done so already, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended guidelines.”
Will flu season be worse this year?
Because of the year 2020 has been in terms of health and wellness, many folks are concerned that this season may hit even worse than it has in recent years. Jorge insists that this year, it is more important than ever to get your yearly shot and keep up with the CDC regulations for social distancing, masks and hygiene this year in order to help keep your respiratory system well.
“Individuals, including those 65 and older, who are at high-risk for contracting respiratory illnesses, such as flu and pneumonia, may also have a greater risk of complications if they contract COVID-19, so it’s important these individuals prioritize getting a flu vaccine as early in the season as possible,” Jorge says.
What foods or supplements are best for the immune system?
What about when it comes to our diet? Many people stand by the importance of taking daily vitamin supplements, while others insist that ingesting fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to keep your immune system running properly. According to Jorge, both supplements and consuming fresh produce are excellent options in keeping yourself well this season.
But which foods are highest in these vitamins? “In addition to immune supporting supplements, foods such as red peppers and citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit and kiwifruit, are all high in vitamin C and can play an important role in immune function (National Institutes of Health),” Jorge explains. “Foods high in vitamin D should also be considered, such as fatty fish, mushrooms and dairy, such as milk, eggs and cheese (National Institutes of Health).”
The 3 best ways to keep safeguard your health
And finally, what are the most effective ways to keep yourself healthy during this time of year? We know that staying home and following regulated guidelines helps the general public keep cases down, but knowing how to help ourselves as individuals may be easier than you think.
“Getting a flu shot each year is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu, as the body’s immune response to the vaccine declines over time,” Jorge says when asked what seniors need to do to stay healthy. “Our pharmacists at CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic offer the high-dose vaccine for adults ages 65 and older, which contains four times the antigens as the regular flu vaccine and can create a stronger immune response.”
This high-dose shot may sound scary, but it’s actually necessary for older adults–and not nearly as scary as the potential affect the illness can have on a senior. According to AARP, about 90 percent of all flu-related deaths occur within the 65 plus community. Though not a death sentence, by any means, it’s still always best to prepare and aid your body in every way you can as the season draws near.
“In addition to getting a flu shot, washing your hands frequently throughout the day while avoiding touching your mouth, eyes and nose can help you prevent the flu,” Jorge states.
Keep yourself safe this flu season by getting your flu shot, eating or taking vitamin supplements for your immune system and keeping your hands and home sanitized. A combination of all of these doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sick, but it will make it harder for any virus or bacteria to touch you!