Once we start to see fall foliage, evening sweaters, and our favorite pumpkin-spiced products back on the shelves (lattes, cupcakes, cookies, Cheerios, etc.), it can only mean one thing: flu season is just around the corner.
We at Sunshine Retirement Living work hard to provide a healthy community for our residents, visitors, employees, and everyone in between. However, as is typical of tight-knit groups of people in close proximity to each other, germs tend to spread more quickly. That’s why when flu season rolls around, it’s important to work together to keep those pesky viruses away. All it takes is a little education, preparation and participation. If you’ve made it to this blog, you’re off to a good start!
Unofficially, the flu season runs from October to May, with most cases occurring in late December to early March. While the flu vaccine is usually offered from September until mid-November, the earlier you’re vaccinated the better. Getting vaccinated before the season is in full force gives your body a chance to build up immunity to the virus, and helps stop the spread before it starts.
Around this time of year, be on the lookout for flu symptoms: fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, cough, fatigue, and muscle aches. Sometimes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also be present. To avoid them, start washing your hands more often and be conscious about avoiding spreading germs in a communal living space.
When you were younger, coming down with the flu might mean spending a day or two in bed and a few lingering sneezes and sniffles. With age, however, weakened immune system responses increase the need for people to be vaccinated. This, in combination with some existing conditions, places folks at greater risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. Even a mild case of the flu can wreak havoc for those afflicted with certain conditions.
While seemingly minute, the consequences of these complications could end up putting you in the hospital. Consequently, staying up to date on vaccines offers significant protection, while preventing outbreaks of serious illness.
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, “It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults, because human immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease.”
All it takes is for one person to get the flu for it to affect the entire community. So in effect, it’s up to you to prevent others from getting this preventable disease. Getting a vaccine yourself keeps bacteria from those around you who are at risk, such as newborn grandbabies or a friend fighting cancer. By getting immunized, you play a role in a future of greater safety from disease.
Every Sunshine community does an on-site flu shot clinic in early fall. We also provide free flu shots for all employees to regardless of full-time/part-time status.
Our nation-wide partner is Walgreens; however, some communities use Walmart and Rite Aid if Walgreens isn’t close by. There is very little paperwork with Walgreens, but at Dunwoody Pines, we have a scheduled pre-paperwork day on September 25 and an on-site Walgreen’s Flu Clinic on September 26. Walgreens offers shingles and other immunizations too, but some cannot be administered on-site or all at once.
In addition to our on-site clinics, we provide a bus to other healthcare providers, such as Kaiser, who offer free flu shots to their members. The nurse hops on the bus and no paperwork is needed for our residents–simple as that!
While there’s no need to get too alarmed and fearful of coming down with something, we don’t want to brush it off either. The good news is, Sunshine makes it easy for everyone to prevent the flu. No long lines. No stress. Get it done and don’t worry about it all winter, which means more time to worry about where your next source of pumpkin-spice-deliciousness will come from.
For more information on how you can get a flu shot, contact your nearest Sunshine community.