The Flu Vaccine: Why You Still Need it and How to Stay Healthy

SneezeIn December, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the current flu vaccine isn’t as effective against the flu as they had hoped. So what went wrong? Each year, experts must predict in February which flu strains will be prevalent in the next flu season to create a vaccine.   But, as we’ve seen this year, the virus can mutate, resulting in new strains that the vaccine does not protect against.

Based on that news, it would be easy to assume you can skip the flu vaccine this year. But the CDC says that actually isn’t true. While some mutated strains aren’t included in the vaccine, there are other flu strains you could still catch. And if you do get the flu, having the vaccine can lessen the severity of your symptoms.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, the main thing you can do to avoid the flu is to wash your hands correctly. But don’t stop there: Here are other ways you can naturally stay healthy this season:

  1. Don’t use your hands to cover your coughs or sneezes. It may feel natural to use your hands to cover your mouth or nose, but doing so can lead to the spread of disease. Instead, use a tissue and throw it away right after. And if you don’t have a tissue, use your upper arm or elbow.
  2. Try not to touch your face. Researchers found that the average person touches his or her face 6 times every hour. And each time your hands touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could be infecting yourself with the flu.
  3. Drink up! During the flu season, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. By drinking plenty of water, you’ll keep your respiratory system moist and help your immune system stay strong.
  4. Get to the gym. Doing cardio exercise like cycling, walking and running can also boost your immune system. That means if the flu virus gets into your body, you have better defenses to fight it.
  5. Become more mindful. Research from University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that people who meditated for 45 minutes a day for eight weeks were less likely to get sick than those who did not. And when they did get sick, it was for a shorter amount of time and with less severe symptoms.

Blue Care Network is rewarding members this year by giving away 16 GB iPads to four lucky members who receive a flu shot between July 2014 and February 2015. Once members have received their flu shots, they can enter a drawing for a chance to win.* Entries must be received by March 1, 2015. Winners will be notified by phone in April.

 

*While Blue Care Network highly encourages you to get your annual flu shot, it’s not required to enter the drawing. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network employees, spouses and dependents are not eligible for this giveaway.  While Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan PPO members are not eligible for the iPad drawing, flu shots may still be covered under your benefits. Check your coverage by logging in to your account at bcbsm.com, clicking on Medical under My Coverage and looking under What’s Covered.

Photo credit: William Brawley

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