The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot each year. Flu shots are safe, effective, and cannot cause the flu.
The Florida Department of Health in Polk County partners with various agencies across the county to offer flu shots to the community during flu season. Flu season in Florida normally peaks during the months of November through February.
Annual flu shots are recommended for the following groups:
- People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
- Persons age 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- Persons with long-term health problems (such as asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease)
- People who can spread the flu to those at high risk (includes those listed above AND infants and young children)
- Household contacts and out-of-the-home caregivers
- Healthcare workers
- Persons who live with or care for persons at high risk
- Anyone wishing to reduce the chance of getting the flu.
The health department also recommends pneumonia shots for persons over 65 years of age, or anyone with a chronic illness or weakened immune system. This shot will help protect them against pneumonia, a serious complication of the flu.
In addition to vaccination, you can also reduce your risk of getting the flu by following a few simple steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser. Teach your children to do the same.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick, and leave sick children home.
- Avoid crowds where people are likely to be coughing or sneezing.
- Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels, or other personal items.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put used tissues in a waste container and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.