While everyone should take the steps necessary to avoid contracting or spreading the flu, several populations need to be extra cautious during flu season.
Diabetics, asthmatics, pregnant women, and older adults must be more aware of the risks and consequences of contracting the flu and should take extra precautions to keep themselves safe. These four populations are more likely to suffer from serious consequences from the flu, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, hospitalizations and more.
Because of changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy, pregnant women are at a very high risk of developing serious illnesses and being hospitalized from the flu. In addition, mothers who develop the flu are at a higher risk for premature labor and delivery, putting their child at risk.
The flu vaccine is not only safe for pregnant women, but will protect the mother as well as the baby after birth from the flu. The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women during any stage of the pregnancy as well as in breastfeeding mothers.
Because children under 6 months old cannot be vaccinated, a mom who obtains her flu vaccination keeps her baby safer flu as well.
It is important to note, though, that the nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.
In addition to getting a flu shot, you can also help to prevent the spread of the flu by:
- Staying home when you are sick, except to get to the doctor, and stay away from other people who are sick if you can.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not your bare hands.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work, especially when someone is ill.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you experience flu-like symptoms and are part of a population at a high risk for developing complications, call your doctor right away to determine if any extra treatment is recommended.