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Flu season is almost here and officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are urging everyone to get their flu shot soon

Be Prepared for a Bad Flu Season

Flu season is almost here and officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are urging everyone to get their flu shot soon. Flu season typically begins before the end of October and usually plateaus by late February or early March.

While the severity of an upcoming flu season is hard to predict, some experts are already forecasting a bad year. The CDC releases weekly influenza surveillance reports that are increasingly showing a spike in the number of new cases

Why is the flu expected to be so bad this year?

The southern hemisphere is traditionally used as an indicator as what’s to come here in the United States, since their flu season is earlier than ours. That region has seen an active flu season this year, especially with the H3N2 strain. There are two main groups of influenza viruses: influenza A and influenza B. The H3N2 strain belongs to the influenza A family and causes particularly severe symptoms.

What can I do to protect myself?

The good news is the H3N2 strain is included in this year’s vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but it can reduce the symptoms and lower the risk of complications if you do become ill.

“Last year’s vaccine was only about 30% effective, so I know there are a lot of people out there saying the flu shot doesn’t work,” says Tommy Ibrahim, M.D., the Executive Vice President, Chief Physician Executive at INTEGRIS. “But I like to compare it to wearing your seatbelt. You might still get hurt if you have an accident, but chances are you won’t be injured as badly as you would have if you had not been wearing a seatbelt. The same thing goes with the flu shot.”

Flu is transmitted via droplets and by contact. Frequently washing your hands with hot water and soap along with vigorous rubbing is your best defense.

Other tips to avoid the flu.

Get plenty of sleep. Doctors recommend at least six to eight hours of sleep per night. Stay hydrated and stay active. Exercise is a great way to stay healthy. And perhaps most importantly, fuel your body with healthy foods. Following these tips could help you stay “flu free” this season.