Flu season is here; Get your flu shot today

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Dr. Kwame Foucher, senior medical director, UnitedHealthcare of Illinois

Edited by Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper

Don’t look now, but Mother Nature has changed the seasons. Though fall is a wonderful time of year, it signals something less pleasant – flu season. Flu, or influenza, is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalizations, severe health complications and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu-related deaths during a given season can number as high as 49,000. Also, flu has a significant impact on the economy. A new study from Health Affairs reports that flu costs in the United States last year for adults reached $5.8 billion in medical visits, medication and lost productivity. So what can you do? The best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu is to get a flu shot.

According to the CDC, everyone who is at least six months old should get a flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease; and for pregnant women, young children and people 65 and older. Influenza does not discriminate against age or health habits. Just because you’re young or don’t typically get sick doesn’t mean you can’t catch the flu. Since a person can be contagious before symptoms develop, you can catch the flu from someone who has yet to show any signs of being sick.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Flu Prevention Tips

To help protect yourself and others from the flu, consider these five tips:

  • Get a flu shot (most important)
  • Wash your hands to reduce the spread of germs
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • If you’re sick, stay home to prevent spreading flu to others
  • Cover coughs and sneezes

The flu shot is not expensive. In most cases, the cost of a flu shot is covered by your health plan, whether you buy health insurance on your own or are covered through your employer, Medicare or Medicaid.

For more information about health care topics, visit UnitedHealthcare’s new online resource Health Care ABCs (www.uhc.com/healthcareabcs).

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