Protect Yourself for Flu Season 2017 – 2018
The most dreaded season of the year is upon us, the one that has everyone young and old dreading its arrival and waiting for it to end. No, I am not referring to the Holiday Season, I am talking about “Flu Season.” According to the CDC, flu season typically arrives in October and can last until May. How severe the 2017-2018 flu season is going to be is anybody’s guess, but its occurrence is a sure thing. So as a healthcare professional, how can you protect yourself for this year’s flu season? Keep reading for a few tips on protecting yourself and family from the inevitable flu outbreak in your community.
Get Your Flu Shot. The flu vaccine is the main recommendation for anyone who wants to protect against the flu. While not infallible, flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses and accompanying doctor visits, can protect against lost work and school days, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations. For the 2017-18 flu season, for the first time, the CDC has prepared a true cell-based candidate vaccine virus for use in the mass production of flu vaccines. Cell-based vaccines have the potential to offer better protection than the egg-based vaccines used in prior years. Another important note is the recommendation by the CDC that the nasal-spray flu vaccine should not be used this year and only injectable flu shots are recommended this flu season.
Practice Good Health Habits. During flu season, it can be difficult to completely avoid exposure to flu-related germs. Especially, because you are a healthcare professional, you will come into contact with those who have the flu virus. There are steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Limit Exposure. Easier said than done, but even while caring for sick patients, nurses and other care professionals can limit their exposure to airborne and infected bodily fluids. Respiratory masks can be worn as part of a respiratory hygiene plan during flu season and also emphasize proper cough etiquette to patients and staff can help reduce exposures.
- Clean Hands and More. Keeping your hands clean is important, but flu prevention doesn’t end there. To keep the risk of flu exposure at bay, wash your hands before and after every patient interaction, have antiseptic wipes available and wipe down desks, phones, keyboards and other shared materials.
- Eat and Sleep Well. We know, trying to sleep better is about as difficult as finding a unicorn, but it is never more important than when your body is under attack from cold and flu viruses. Eating a healthy diet, fitting time in for exercise, and creating sound sleeping habits can go a long way toward keeping your immune system strong throughout the flu season months and year round.
- Self-Quarantine. It is never a positive situation when you have to call in sick to work, but it is a way to keep your fellow workers and your patients safe from the virus. We know you work in a very busy environment and when you call in sick, you feel like you are letting your co-workers down, but in essence, by protecting them from the exposure they can stay healthy and on the job to care for the patients in your absence.
Fight Back Before it Starts. Even Superman gets the flu which means as a nurse, you too are going to get sick at some point. One way you can stay ahead of the virus is to keep hydrated and make sure you are getting enough Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Some people swear by products that are purported to help ease cold and flu symptoms, like Oscillococcinum, but there isn’t enough clinical evidence to back up the claims. A healthy diet and plenty of fresh water is your best starting point for flu defense. You can add to the regimen based on your own experiences.
Please join this discussion by posting your thoughts in the comment section below. Do you have any personal strategies for flu season? Do you use any home remedies to avoid the flu or to reduce the symptoms? We would love to hear from you. Also, join us on our Facebook page.