The 2019 to 2020 Flu Season Has Begun

2019 2020 Flu Season

It’s finally Fall! ‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice, sweaters, and…the flu. You are probably already preparing for Halloween, but are you prepared for the fever, sore throat, and body aches?

The October 2019 to May 2020 flu season could be a severe one. It has already resulted in hospitalizations and the death of a 4-year-old in California.

“I always recommend people get their flu shots every year, but a death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual,” said Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser in a press release.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine, and if possible, they get it before the end of the month.

Once the holiday season starts, we are exposed to more people and more germs. Two weeks after you receive a flu shot, your body has completely built up immunity to targeted strains of the virus.

Last year, the vaccine was not as effective as it should have been due to an unexpected second strain of the flu appearing later in the season.

The virus is unpredictable, but getting the vaccine is still always the safest option. This season’s flu shot protects against several strains, including H1N1 and H3N2.

There is also a nasal spray option, FluMist, for those sensitive to needles. Even if you catch the virus after getting a flu shot, your symptoms are likely to be less severe and your recovery will be faster.

Most importantly, it can protect against pneumonia, which can lead to death for high risk groups. Some people report having flu like symptoms directly after receiving a flu shot.

This can happen, but it should not deter you from getting the vaccine. Those symptoms only last one to two days. The flu vaccine can never cause the flu.

Last year’s flu season in the US was the longest flu season in 10 years. There were around 43 million cases of the flu, 647,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 61,200 flu-related deaths.

This was a moderate season, especially compared to the 80,000 people who died from the flu and flu-related complications in the previous season.

Children under 5, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems or chronic illness are more likely to suffer from serious flu-related complications or death.

Infection in those with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or lung or heart disease can become fatal.

Doctors predicted that the H3N2 strain will be very severe this flu season. During Australia’s flu season this year, H3N2 was particularly bad.

Head to any doctor’s office, clinic, or neighborhood pharmacy to get a flu shot ASAP. Click here to find the place that’s closest to you. It is scientifically proven that the most effective way to avoid getting the flu is to get a flu shot.

Besides the vaccine, there are other precautions you can take for protection.

First and foremost, wash your hands!

Hand washing for at least 30 seconds in running water with soap is way more effective at killing influenza germs than using hand sanitizer.

The ethanol in hand sanitizer does not kill wet flu germs until four minutes after it has been applied to your hands.

Second, clean your home. People think their bathroom is the dirtiest room in the house, but really, there’s more fecal bacteria in a kitchen sink then in a toilet bowl, and more fecal bacteria on a cutting board then on a toilet seat.

Kitchen towels, bath towels, and hand towels are hotbeds for bacterial growth, and need to be thoroughly washed in hot water every three or four days.

Using bleach in the kitchen is a good way to go. People can forget about wiping down refrigerators handles, microwave buttons, blenders, can openers, spatulas, and faucets.

Kitchen sponges, home to hundreds of bacteria, should be replaced once a week. Washing the sponges does nothing to prevent bacteria growth. Throw them out!

Lastly, avoid friends, co-workers, and family members that are sick. Stay home if you are sick. Make sure your children are washing their hands regularly, especially after playing outside.

Flu symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose or congestion, body aches, headaches, or fatigue.

Not everyone with the flu will have a fever, and some people also report nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you get sick with the flu, the best treatment is to stay home, sleep, and avoid other people (I do this anyway). If you are immunocompromised or have other medical conditions, seek medical attention right away for antiviral treatment.