Have you gotten your flu shot yet? It’s not too late! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season can peak at any time, though a January or February peak is most common in the U.S. Although a trend in recent years has seen many waiting until flu activity breaks out to get a flu shot, waiting is not the advisable thing to do.
“It takes up to two weeks for the body to build up full immunity following a flu shot,” explains Walgreens chief medical officer, Harry Leider, M.D. “During the holidays and busy travel season, we’re typically exposed to more germs and viruses, which is why you really don’t want to put it off until the last minute or wait until your neighbors and co-workers are already getting sick. The last thing anyone wants to do is have to cancel a family vacation or important event due to illness.”
In the meantime, if you haven’t gotten the shot or you’re waiting for it to take effect, here are some preventive actions you can take to stop the spread of germs:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you do get sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Cover your nose and mouth, preferably with a tissue, when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that can become contaminated.
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. They can make illness milder, prevent serious complications and shorten the time you are sick.