Although plenty of people are excited for cooler weather and the pending holidays, there's one thing nobody enjoys about this time of the year, and that is flu season. The thought alone makes you want to bathe in hand sanitizer. So when is flu season 2019, and how can you prepare for it? It's time to think about and prioritize your health, even if it feels like last year's sweep just ended.
For 2019, the flu season is just about to begin. "Seasonal flu activity usually peaks between October to December in the U.S., and CDC expects flu activity to increase in the coming weeks," Scott Pauley, press officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells Romper via email. That said, experts cannot yet determine exactly how this year's flu will play out. "It’s still too early in this season to tell for sure how bad the severity of the season will be, but last year the peak hit near the end of December and carried through January. However, the one constant of the flu is that it is unpredictable and varies from year to year." Whatever is in store for the coming months flu-wise, it's going to ramp up soon enough.
What exactly is a flu season, and why does it change from year to year? "CDC monitors certain key flu indicators (for example, outpatient visits of influenza-like illness (ILI), the results of laboratory testing and reports of flu hospitalizations and deaths)," says Pauley. "When these indicators rise and remain elevated for a number of consecutive weeks, 'flu season' is said to have begun." Although it happens every year, the actual flu season is really something that's monitored, not necessarily predicted.
Whatever flu season 2019 brings, there's still plenty of ways to help keep you and your family healthy during this time. One preventative measure stands out from the rest. "CDC recommends everyone 6 months or older get a flu vaccine by the end of October," says Pauley. "The flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu." If anything about the vaccine gives you pause, then check out these myth-busting post about flu shots from a nurse. Beth Purkey, an emergency room nurse explained in a Facebook post why it's important for as many people as possible to get the vaccine, because it helps protect those (including chemo patients or newborns) who are not able to get the shot. There's nothing quite like the firsthand account of someone who works in the medical profession to highlight the importance of getting the flu vaccine.
In addition to the flu vaccine, there are some additional ways you can guard yourself against the nasty seasonal virus including washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face per University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. These simple habits can help avoid the spread of germs. Although nobody is really thrilled about the start of flu season, there's still plenty you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during this time.