Ban the Bug!

This week (December 4-10) is Ban the Bug week. The Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Coalition for Adult Immunization, local public health agencies and other health care providers are encouraging everyone to go and get their flu shot!

The reason for this big push is because influenza can be an extremely serious illness, especially for certain groups of people:

  • Seniors
  • People living in nursing homes
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children, particularly younger than 2 years old
  • Individuals living with a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes or COPD

Even if you consider yourself a healthy person, getting a flu shot will help you stay well and limit the spread of this virus to others. It is also important to get vaccinated if you care for or are around these “high risk” people on a daily basis: anyone working in the health care field, day care providers, teachers, parents with young children, etc…

The words “influenza” and “flu” are often used interchangeably but influenza is not your typical stomach flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.” The elderly population must take extra precautions as the CDC found that in a typical year, 90% of deaths related to the influenza virus are people over the age of 65.

Prices for flu shots vary from clinic to clinic. If you are covered by Medicare, they are free of charge under your Medicare Part B benefit. If you are covered by a private insurance company, be sure to bring that card with you as some insurance plans will cover the cost or at least part of it.

In addition to getting vaccinated, there are many other ways to prevent the spread of the influenza virus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Always cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you are sick, stay at home.
  • If others are sick, try to keep your distance from them.

There are a lot of helpful resources that talk about influenza, give statistics and offer other helpful information. Check out the Minnesota Department of Health, the CDC and the American Lung Association or feel free to contact us with any other questions.

Bottom line – no matter how healthy you are, no one is immune to influenza. Get vaccinated and Ban the Bug today!