“The flu” has turned into quite the buzzword lately with reports of a record high season and shot shortages. A few of our favorite stars even spoke of feeling under the weather last week at the Golden Globes while others were sidelined from the event altogether. “Meryl Streep is not here tonight,” funny gal Amy Poehler announced. “She has the flu—and I hear she’s amazing in it.”
The epidemic is no laughing matter though with new cases of the widespread illness popping up every day across 47 states. We spoke with Dr. Phillip M. Tierno, Jr., New York University’s Director of Clinical Macrobiology and Diagnostic Immunology, about the virus and the most common germ-infested areas. Don’t stock up on soup and tissues just yet! Here’s all you need to know about battling the bug:
- Inject immunity—if you haven’t already. “A flu shot is probably one of the best things you can do to offset getting sick,” said Dr. Tierno, especially since up to 60 million people will get the flu annually, depending on vaccines! Find a vaccine near you with the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
- Break the chain of transmission. According to Dr. Tierno, 80% of all infections are spread through contact—both direct (sharing a spoon with a sickie) and indirect (pressing an infected elevator button then rubbing your eye). Since viruses can live on surfaces for months, it is crucial to keep commonly touched spots sanitary. Think outside your typical “wash your hands before you eat” type of cleanliness in terms of personal hygiene. For example, keep clean and dirty clothing in separate baskets. Germs from dirty clothes can transfer onto freshly washed laundry—ew, gross! Read more
Have you had your flu shot yet? According to a recent survey, two-thirds of adults fear spreading the influenza virus to their loved ones, yet three in five remain unvaccinated against it. Some adults cite a fear of needles for avoiding their flu shots, which is why NCIS: Los Angeles star and father of five Chris O’Donnell was eager to team up with Sanofi Pasteur to introduce the FDA-approved FluZone Intradermal, an alternative immunization option for adults (18 through 64 years of age) that features an ultra-thin needle that is 90 percent smaller.
“My kids are little walking Petri dishes,” the busy dad joked. “We make it an effort to get flu shots. I learned about this different delivery system and I’m a big fan. This reminds me of getting your finger pricked than getting the regular needle.”
“It’s important to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available,” says Carlos E. Picone, M.D., F.C.C.P., Vice-Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Even though the vaccine isn’t 100% effective, he says, it will still lessen severity of the flu and make you less likely to get complications.
Dr. Picone also recommends daily exercise to help fight sickness. “Exercise boosts your immune system and shortens the course of disease. At the very least, dedicate 30 minutes a day to get active. You can do push ups and sit ups when you watch TV.”
Besides getting an annual vaccination, O’Donnell’s methods for avoiding the flu includes getting lots of sleep and washing your hands. “And also washing my kids’ hands because they’re the ones carrying it usually.”
Visit FluZone.com to learn more about FluZone Intradermal and where it’s available in your area.