Lindsey Londono

Tis the season! With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to remember it is flu season as well. Influenza A and B viruses do spread year-round; however, flu activity tends to peak between December and February. According to the CDC, more than 5,000 patients were hospitalized due to influenza this past December in one week alone. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself and your family from contracting the virus and preventing serious illness.

The best defense against influenza for patients greater than 6 months old is receiving the influenza vaccine every year. This is particularly important for high-risk patients such as the elderly and the immunocompromised. The flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy as well. The influenza vaccine is readily available at walk-in clinics, hospitals, drug stores and some primary care offices. The vaccine even comes as a nasal spray that is approved for patients ages 2 to 49 years.

The second-best way to avoid influenza is proper hand washing. It is important to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough and frequently wash your hands for at least 60 seconds with soap and water. Hand sanitizer may be used if hand washing is unavailable. If you do contract the virus or have symptoms of influenza, it is important to limit contact with others to keep from infecting others and spreading the disease. If you are sick, stay home, rest, hydrate and remember, it is the season to spread joy, not germs!