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Flu Prevention: What you Need to Know

As summer winds down and we settle back into a fall routine, the seasonal shift is a good time to revisit awareness around flu prevention. Flu season can occur as early as October and as late as May. We have the latest on how to help keep you and your family healthy and flu-free this fall!

Flu shot

If you don't typically get the flu vaccine, you may want to reconsider. Getting vaccinated can reduce your chance of getting sick, missing work or school, or being admitted to the hospital for flu-related complications.1

45.6 percent of children and 44.9 percent of adults in the United States were vaccinated for the flu by November of the 2018-2019 flu season.2 Typically, the vaccine protects against the three to four strains of flu researchers believe will be most common.

The CDC says the shot:

  • Is safe for everyone over 6 months’ old,
  • Does not cause the flu or flu symptoms,
  • Must be received annually in order to provide protection, and
  • Needs about two weeks to become effective.3

Each year the CDC conducts studies on how well the flu vaccine prevented illness, and they’ve determined that it typically decreases the number of flu cases and flu-related doctor visits by millions, and hospital visits by the thousands.4  Because no vaccine is 100% effective, some vaccinated individuals may still contract the flu. The good news is there is evidence to suggest that people who get the vaccine but do contract the illness tend to experience less severe symptoms.

Trying to avoid expensive hospital stays?  A study supported by the CDC over four flu seasons showed that the vaccine reduced the risk of being admitted into the general ward of the hospital by 32% and the ICU by 82%.5

More prevention tips

Many activities can help reduce your risk of contracting the flu and other illnesses this season. Most importantly, avoid spending time with people who are ill and if you feel sick, prevent the spread of illness by remaining home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides, without the use of fever-reducing medications. Practice these tips at home to maximize protection:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with the crook of your elbow or shoulder. If you use a tissue, be sure to toss it in the trash right away.
  • Increase your frequency of regular, soap-and-water handwashing. Keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand cleaner in your purse or bag for when you don’t have handwashing access.
  • Reduce the spread of germs by limiting how often your touch your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • For high germ traffic areas, like doorknobs and handles, consider cleaning more often during flu season.
  • Maintain your overall health to keep your immune system strong: get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat healthy foods, and build in time every day to enjoy an activity that reduces your stress.
  • Take anti-viral medications if your doctor prescribes them. 1

Still sick?

Even the best prevention can sometimes miss the mark. Symptoms of flu may range from mild to severe and can often mimic those of other colds and viruses. Lookout for the most common symptoms: fever or chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headaches and fatigue. In contrast the gradual onset of cold symptoms, flu symptoms typically appear very abruptly.

Most flu sufferers will feel better after a few days, but sometimes complications can occur. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor with concerns. Seek care immediately for:

  • Anyone who experiences troubled or fast breathing, pain or pressure in chest, confusion or extreme lethargy.
  • Anyone who shows signs of dehydration, such as tearless crying or decreased urination.
  • Children who have trouble waking up, are less interactive or have a fever with a rash.

Coming down with an illness like the flu can mean unexpected medical expenses or missed work.  Learn how our products, like Accident and Illness, could help by paying benefits directly to you. Contact an agent today to learn more!

Supplemental insurance policies are underwritten by Combined Insurance Company of America (Chicago, Il) in all states except New York. In New York, these policies are underwritten by Combined Life Insurance Company of New York (Latham, NY). All policies contain exclusions and limitations, see the policy for details.


1-CDC Says "Take 3" Actions to Fight Flu | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window

2-Early-Season Flu Vaccination Coverage–United States, November 2018 | FluVaxView | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window

3-Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window

4-Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window

5-Study Shows Flu Vaccine Reduces Risk of Severe Illness | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window