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Our Opinion: Don't forget about the flu

by News Tribune | January 6, 2022 at 2:11 p.m.

With all the focus on the recent omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge, it’s easy to forget about another microscopic health hazard: the flu.

As we recently reported, hospitals across the U.S. admitted 1,825 people due to the flu during the week that ended Christmas Day. And the season is just getting started.

The annual flu shot is the best protection against the flu and its potentially serious complications.

Missouri has seen 1,907 new cases of influenza for the week ending Dec. 25, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The number of flu cases in Cole County is increasing, but the county still remains behind reported cases from last year, as we recently reported.

The drastic temperature changes might not be helping. Some experts blame the swings for leaving some people more susceptible to infections.

One misconception is flu vaccinations can cause the flu. The truth is the shot is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection.

The Centers for Disease Controls recommends everyone age 6 months and older get the shot yearly.

The shot is the best way to protect yourself, but it’s not the only way. The CDC offers these recommendations:

• Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.

• Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk.

• Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol- based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

There’s still time to get your flu shot. Take care of yourself. You’ll also be doing a favor for others around you.

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