Take precautions against the flu this fall

By Karen Bartholet, Army Public Health Nursing, Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center

It’s time to start thinking about the flu.

Influenza is a contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms can cause mild to severe illness and even death.

The Centers for Disease and Control estimates that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2015-16.htm).

It is important to protect yourself and your family. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated annually. Other preventive measures include practicing good hand-washing often, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, staying home when you are sick, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick.

Other good habits to consider to help reduce the risk of flu is to practice healthy lifestyle choices. Fuel your body for optimal performance by remembering the three key components of the Army Performance Triad: sleep, nutrition and activity.

Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Stay active by getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week; two to three total-body strength training sessions per week; and 10,000 steps a day.

Be sure to make smart food choices. Focus on at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day; choose 100 percent of whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats; and most importantly, eat a wholesome breakfast every day.

This fall, Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center will offer free flu vaccines to TRICARE Beneficiary (not Johns Hopkins U.S. Family Health Plan).

Future announcements will be coming with specific dates, times and locations for active-duty service members, retirees and family members (not enrolled in USHFP) to receive a flu vaccination.

USHFP members can go to Rite Aid Pharmacy or schedule an appointment with their PCM to receive a free flu vaccination.

For more information about seasonal flu, talk to your health care provider or visit the Center for Disease Control flu website.

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