A woman holding a pill bottle in her hand prepares to brush her teeth

When it comes to protecting you and your loved ones, how much do you know about reducing the risk of flu?

It’s not too late to get a flu shot

Flu season usually begins around late October and continues well into the new year. Seasonal cases often peak in February, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu virus can hang around through the spring.1

If you or those you care for have not yet gotten a flu shot, there’s still time!

The annual flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu. But remember, it takes about 2 weeks after the vaccination shot for it to become effective.2

During that period, someone who contracts the virus before getting the shot or before it becomes effective can still get sick.So don’t wait until you or your loved one starts feeling sick.

Certain preventive vaccines are covered in many Humana plans, and flu shots are available to most Humana Medicare members at no additional cost.*

Prefer to miss your shot? Ask your doctor about flu vaccination by nasal spray.

Keep washing those hands

A flu shot is the best way to keep from getting the flu.3 But once you and your loved one have been vaccinated, thorough hand-washing is an easy and effective way to help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus.

Other viruses that are not covered by a flu shot, such as the common cold, also spread during the winter months. That makes hand-washing and good hygiene even more important in helping to keep you and your loved ones healthy.

Here are some tips from the CDC on how to wash your hands properly:4

  1. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (That’s all the way through the “Happy Birthday” song.)
  2. Soap and water are best, but if they’re not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  3. Rub your hands together with the soap or sanitizer, making sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  4. Rinse well under clean, running water and dry with a clean towel or air dryer.


What to do if someone gets the flu

If you or those you care for have flu symptoms like a fever, cough or sore throat, visit your doctor or urgent care clinic right away.

Once they’ve seen a healthcare provider, those who are sick should:

  • Gets lots of rest
  • Treat fever and cough with over-the-counter medicine. The doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to relieve symptoms
  • Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration)
  • Avoid direct contact with household members to help prevent others from getting sick


To keep from spreading the flu to others, be sure to:

  • Wash hands regularly.
  • Wipe down doorknobs, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, phones and toys.
  • Clean bed linens and laundry with normal laundry soap, and dry on a hot setting.


This article is part of the Winter 2018 Caring for Health newsletter for caregivers. Check out the latest issue.

* Please refer to the member’s Evidence of Coverage or Benefit Plan Document (Certificate of Insurance or Summary Plan Description), or call Member Services at the number on the back of the Humana member ID card to see if flu shots are covered.


  1. “The Flu Season,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 15, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm, opens new window.
  2. “Summary of the 2017–2018 Influenza Season,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 15, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm, opens new window.
  3. “Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 15, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm, opens new window.
  4. “Wash Your Hands,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 15, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html, opens new window.