Every year, we hear reminders to protect ourselves and our communities from the seasonal flu. Some may feel like we’re numb to news about the flu and barely pay attention anymore. Others believe they’re doing their part to prevent the flu by getting their flu shot. While it’s always smart to take the flu vaccine, there are other things you can do to safeguard against the flu and other similar viruses and simultaneously reduce your chances of spreading it to others.
Stats About the Flu in Florida
Like most other states in the U.S., the flu in Florida is a significant concern for medical professionals — especially since it can often lead to complications, such as developing pneumonia, and can be fatal for young children. The state combines the flu and pneumonia statistics, since the latter is so often a direct result of the flu.
In 2019, Florida saw 2,703 flu-related deaths, a number only slightly lower than the death rate from the previous two years. Miami-Dade County experienced the highest number of flu-related deaths in 2019, recording 270 deaths. Palm Beach was second with 178.
The state surveils the reported cases of the flu in Florida every two weeks, and the numbers fluctuate between increases and decreases in reported flu cases, suggesting that there’s no escaping the flu virus except by being diligent and practicing proper hygiene. Preventing the flu is far easier thanks to the flu vaccine, which proved to be more effective than not in the 2019-2020 flu season.
Who’s Most at Risk for the Flu?
The flu doesn’t discriminate, and even the healthiest people can become infected with the virus. However, several groups are at a higher risk of becoming ill.
- Older adults: As we age, our immune systems change, and sometimes, they’re less able to fight off viruses. That makes people over age 65 at a higher risk of catching the flu virus, especially if they live in long-term care homes. Studies estimate that 70 to 85% of flu-related deaths occur in the over-65 population.
- People with chronic illnesses: Any chronic medical condition — including asthma, liver conditions and heart disease — makes people more vulnerable to the flu virus.
- Pregnant people: Pregnancy brings about many changes in the body, and one of these can be a vulnerable immune system, making pregnant people more likely to become ill. Pregnancy can also lead to a weakened heart and lungs, and some flu symptoms — such as a fever — can even harm the fetus.
- Young children: Any child younger than 5 is at a high risk of catching the flu and developing flu-related complications, but children younger than 2 are at the highest risk. Complications can include pneumonia, brain dysfunction and ear infections.
In children, emergency symptoms of the flu can include:
- Rapid or troubled breathing
- Chest or severe muscle pain
- High fever
For people aged 65 or higher, emergency flu symptoms can include:
- Persistent dizziness or confusion
- Severe muscle pain
- Worsening chronic illness
- Inability to urinate
- Difficulty breathing
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine is the best line of defense for everyone to minimize the risk of catching the flu virus
Info About Flu Shots
The flu vaccine changes every year to keep up with evolving strains of the flu virus. While the flu vaccine isn’t a surefire way to avoid the flu, it’s the best way to protect yourself, especially if you fall into the high-risk category. The CDC reports that the flu vaccine prevents millions of flu-related illnesses in the U.S. every year. During seasons when the vaccine virus is similar to the circulating virus, the effectiveness is 40 to 60% successful.
Flu vaccines also lessen the flu’s severity, therefore reducing the number of flu-related hospitalization and deaths.
Herd immunity is, perhaps, the most critical reason to get a flu shot. That means those who are healthy get the flu vaccine to help prevent its spread, so people who can’t get the vaccine are not at a higher risk. These include immunocompromised people and very young infants who can’t safely get a flu shot yet.
Those who are generally at a higher risk for the flu, such as older people and pregnant people, also are less likely to become burdened with the flu when they get the flu vaccine. And the best way to prevent children from getting the flu is to ensure they get their flu vaccination.
Where to Get Your Flu Shot in Florida
The best place to find out where to get a flu shot is your physician. Your doctor will either be able to administer the flu shot in their office, or will be able to tell you exactly where you can get one.
Ways to Prevent the Flu
The CDC suggests three easy ways to help protect yourself from the flu, while preventing its spread to others.
- Get the flu vaccine: We’ve already discussed the flu shot’s innumerable benefits, so it’s no surprise the CDC’s first suggestion for preventing the flu is to get the vaccine.
- Take preventive measures: Washing your hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into your elbow and avoiding close contact with sick people are ways you can keep yourself and others safe during flu season. Strengthening your immune system is another excellent preventive measure. Immune boost IV therapy is a popular way for people to get the nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants to help your immune system fight the flu.
- Take antiviral drugs: If you do find yourself sick, the CDC suggests talking to your doctor about antiviral drugs, which are only available by prescription and can help lessen your symptoms and reduce the length of the flu.
Already Have the Flu? Let Us Help
Sometimes, no matter how hard you work to prevent it, you still end up with the flu. Luckily, IV therapy isn’t only for flu prevention — it can also help alleviate flu symptoms like aches and pains, nausea and fever.