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The headlines are about Covid-19, polio, and monkeypox. Another virus — influenza — will soon be here. Flu activity tends to start in October.

This year may be worse in part because Covid restrictions have loosened.

Here is what you can do to stay healthy.

Get a flu vaccine.

It’s too early to tell how effective the flu vaccine will be this year. Even when the vaccine does not match well against flu viruses, it protects people against severe illness and complications.

The flu vaccine reduces the risk of going to the hospital.

Children are eligible for the nasal spray flu vaccine, which doesn’t require a needle stick and should work just as well as the shot.

People at higher risk for flu complications include those who are pregnant, 65 or older, or have conditions like asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. They may want to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible.

Some people may want to wait.

Getting the flu vaccine early is better than not getting it at all. The protection afforded by the flu vaccine lessens over time. People are more likely to encounter the flu virus in the winter rather than in early fall. The vaccine may still protect you after seven or eight months.

Wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces and wash your hands regularly.

Wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces. “Masking helps reduce the spread of a lot of respiratory viruses, not just flu,” an expert said. Regular hand washing will also reduce your risk of getting sick.

What to do if you feel sick.

If your nose is running, and you are coughing, and you are congested, limit your activities. Try not to expose yourself to others. If you feel sick, it is important to stay home if possible.

Source: The New York Times September 17, 2022

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