Sweet: Protect yourself community this flu season

It may be hard to believe, but fall is just around the corner, which means the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is shortly behind it.

Few of us have much extra time on our hands during the next few months, which means coming down with influenza is likely near the bottom of our list of goals.

Thankfully, protecting yourself from the flu is easy.

This year, the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA), the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky have teamed up for a statewide educational campaign to help mitigate the effects of what could be another deadly flu season across the Commonwealth by encouraging residents to “Focus on Flu.”

With flu activity already being reported around the state, remember three simple steps are all it takes to stay safe this flu season: get your shot, consult your doc and stop the spread.

The first and easiest way to protect yourself against the flu is to receive the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends flu shots for those 6 months and older before the end of October. Focus on Flu has chosen Wednesday, Sept. 26 as a statewide “Flu Shot Day” to remind Kentuckians of the importance of this vaccine and encourage residents to make sure they are protected.

When you get the flu shot, you are not the only one who benefits. Receiving the flu vaccine also ensures those in your community who are unable get the shot, such as infants or those who are ill, are also protected, thanks to community immunity.

Getting your flu shot is the safe and simple way to be a responsible citizen, and thankfully, the vaccine has never been easier to get. It can be found anywhere from physicians’ offices to your local pharmacies and county health departments, grocery stores and countless other locations.

Although the vaccine protects against what are predicted to be the most common three to four strains of the flu each year, some people may still get the virus.

While there is data to suggest the flu shot can lessen the effects of the illness, if you think you may have the flu, it is important to consult your physician. They can advise you on next steps and potential treatment options.

Additionally, using proper hygiene during flu season is key to protecting you and preventing the spread of flu.

Washing hands thoroughly and covering sneezes and coughs are even more important during flu season.

Staying home from work or school when you are sick also ensures those around you are kept safe.

No one wants to deal with the coughing, sneezing, body aches and misery that come with flu.

Getting your flu shot is the easiest and most effective way you can protect yourself, your family, your friends, and the rest of the Winchester community.

LaTonia Sweet, M.D. is a Winchester physician. She is a graduate of the Kentucky Medical Association’s Community Connector Leadership Program and Kentucky Physicians Leadership Institute.