Don’t mess around with the flu

The annual flu season is here, and it can have a severe impact on senior citizens or people with chronic health conditions. But don't fret! As a caregiver, a simple and effective way to help your loved one reduce the risk of catching the flu this fall is to make sure they get vaccinated against the virus. Flu shots are available to most Humana members at no additional cost.

Get the facts about these common excuses

Getting a flu shot for yourself may also help protect others— when you take measures to help reduce your chances of getting the flu, it may lower the risk of getting friends and family members sick.

Make sure you don't fall victim to some of these common myths about flu shots:

  • “Getting a flu shot is inconvenient and time-consuming.” — Getting a flu shot is as easy as going to a pharmacy—many offer vaccination services that can have people in and out quickly. Many doctors can also give flu shots by appointment.
  • “I can’t afford a flu shot.” — Certain preventive vaccines are covered in many Humana plans, and flu shots are available to most Humana Medicare members at no additional cost.*
  • “I’m too healthy to get the flu.” — “Healthy” people can get sick or carry the flu virus without showing symptoms and still spread it to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1
  • “I’ll wait until I really need it.” — It can take a couple weeks for the flu shot to start working, but the CDC says seasonal flu can start spreading in October and increase during the holiday travel season.2
  • “I’ve heard the flu shot can give you the flu.” — Not true— the injected vaccine is made of a disabled virus, which makes it impossible to get the flu from the shot, according to the CDC. Side effects from the shot are extremely mild if they show up at all.3
  • “Sometimes flu shots don’t even work.” — The flu shot protects against many of the common seasonal strains. Even if different types of the flu virus spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says getting a shot can possibly lessen the severity of the illness.
  • “I had a flu shot last year.” — Flu virus strains change and vaccine protection declines over time, so last year’s vaccine may not protect you from getting sick. The CDC says it's important to get a shot every year.4

Is it the flu or just a cold?

When the person you care for isn't feeling well, there are some telltale symptoms that may help you differentiate between a cold and the flu.

According to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID):5

  • Colds often involve a stuffy nose, sneezing and a sore throat. They rarely include fever and headache.
  • The flu often causes fever, headaches and extreme exhaustion.

If you think your loved one may have the flu, get them to their doctor

If the signs suggest it could be the flu, it’s essential to take early and quick action. Antiviral treatments are most effective if taken within 48 hours of the first sign of symptoms, according to the CDC.2

Early treatment is especially important for people the CDC considers at high risk for serious health complications,6 including those 65 or older, residents of nursing homes or care facilities and people with health conditions such as:

  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • weakened immune systems

Sources: