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Flu expert on record cold: Get a flu shot!

healthcareAs temperatures drop during the polar vortexRichard WebbyPh.D., a member of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department, encourages everyone to get a flu shot.

He reminded Americans that the flu vaccine is still effective, and it is not too late to get the full benefits of a flu shot during this year’s flu season.

“Now is the time to get a flu shot—it is not too late,” said Webby, also Director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds that focuses on understanding influenza and improving vaccines to combat the virus. “The public should know that the flu vaccine is still effective for the current flu season. There is still time to get the full benefits of the vaccine, which continues to be the number one most effective way to protect yourself, your neighbors and the most vulnerable. Although not a complete guarantee, the flu shot is a valuable and life-saving public health tool. If the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from contracting the flu, it can still protect against the severity of the illness.”

In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, there are also additional simple and effective prevention tips to protect you and your family.

Some of these include:

  • Cleaning your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Staying home if you’re sick.
  • Covering your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze. Also, washing your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoiding touching your nose and mouth.

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu activity report, 19 states have reported high levels of flu activity, more than double the activity of the previous week. CNN reported that 13 children have died so far this flu season, compared to 185 children during last year’s flu season – 80 percent of whom did not get a flu shot. Experts have indicated that flu season may extend longer than expected.

Webby recently penned a guest column in Newsweek encouraging the public to get a flu – it’s not too late.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department has released a fact sheet with useful tips on prevention titled “Controlling the Spread of Colds and Flu.”