With the end of summer comes the beginning of flu season, and local experts are urging residents to take precautionary steps to prevent the disease.
Cases of the flu are most common from October through May, and certain demographics are more susceptible to contracting the virus. With flu season on the horizon, some organizations are making it easy by providing pop-up clinics where people can receive vaccinations.
“You want to try and get a shot two weeks before the season is starting because it takes two weeks to build up an immunity,” said Rebecca Poulin, the pharmacy manager at Hannaford. “Anytime is good, but it does take two weeks for the body to build up an immunity.”
While more flu clinics are expected to pop up around the region in the weeks to come, one of the first will be provided by Hannaford pharmacy on Monday at The Summit at Saratoga, a senior living facility on Perry Road.
This will be the second year the facility is hosting a flu clinic, said Christy Durant, the community manager at The Summit at Saratoga. The business tries to offer services to the public on a regular basis, such as flu clinics and defensive driving seminars, she said.
The clinic will be open from 9 a.m. until noon to residents and the public alike, Durant said. Those looking to get a flu shot are asked to bring their insurance cards.
Pharmacists can’t immunize children, so those younger than 18 won’t be able to be vaccinated at Monday’s clinic, Poulin said.
However, those most in need of a flu shot are the elderly, those who have diabetes, those with heart disease or individuals who have had the flu in the past, Poulin said.
The expected severity of this year’s flu season is not yet known, but the state Department of Health begins monitoring information relating to the flu in October.
Here are some tips from Poulin and the Department of Health on how to avoid the flu:
- Get a flu shot. The department recommends everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccination. It is especially encouraged for those older than 65, since they are at a higher risk to contract the disease, and people who deal with children or the elderly.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands often with soap and hot water helps to kill germs and avoid spreading them to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.
- Stay home if you’re feeling ill. If you’re having flulike symptoms, it’s best to stay home from work or school rather than risk spreading the disease.
- Eat right. A good diet and a vitamin C supplement will go a long way toward warding off the flu.
- Stay informed. Flu season occurs primarily from October through May. In that time frame, the state typically posts weekly surveillance reports to monitor the severity of flu season. You can find that information on the Department of Health’s website.