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Protection from the flu

By AJ Murphy

Don’t let the flu affect you this season. Aetna Better Health® covers flu shots for all our members. The flu virus is always changing, so the flu shot you got last year won’t protect you this year. There are different vaccines for different ages. Your doctor will tell you what’s right for you or your child. Some people have a higher risk of getting the flu than others. It’s important that you speak with your doctor about getting your flu shot if you:

  • Have a chronic condition like asthma, diabetes or lung disease
  • Are pregnant
  • Are age 65 or older
  • Live in a nursing home
  • Are a caregiver or are in close contact with people who have chronic conditions

If you’re 65 or older, smoke or have a chronic health condition, ask your doctor if you should receive the pneumonia vaccine.

Do you have the flu?

Flu symptoms come quickly. They can last a few days or a few weeks. You should get treatment if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Fever — usually higher than 101 F (38.3 C) — and chills
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Muscle aches

How to take care of yourself if you have the flu

Go to your doctor in the first 72 hours of flu symptoms. The flu usually improves on its own. Your doctor will prescribe you an antiviral medication if you need it. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.

The flu spreads through the air when someone who has the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. You can also get infected if you touch the same thing that someone with the flu touched.

How can the flu be prevented?

One of the best ways to prevent the flu is to get your flu shot every year. Adults can get a flu shot at most retail pharmacies in our network. Doctors recommend getting a flu shot each fall or winter.

You should also:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean phones, computer keyboards and anything else that you touch frequently at work and at home
  • Carry an alcohol-based gel with you and use it when you don’t have access to soap and water
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks with others

What to do if your child has the flu

Go to your child’s primary care physician or to urgent care for:

  • A fever in an infant under 3 months old
  • A fever of 102 F at any age
  • Breathing problems
  • No desire to eat or drink
  • Ear pain
  • Extra crankiness or sleepiness
  • A cough that lasts longer than two weeks
  • Flu symptoms that are getting worse

About the author

AJ Murphy is an evocative young writer who grew up in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood. AJ began his writing career at Alaska Ice Rinks Inc. in Anchorage, AK, where he also drove a Zamboni and took care of outdoor hockey rinks.

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