With flu season beginning earlier in Arizona and the nation this year and expected to be worse than usual, health experts continue to urge individuals to get vaccinated.
"Getting vaccinated against flu is a key step you can take to prevent having the flu yourself, as well as spreading it to others," said Lynn Carosella, RN, an infection control nurse at Scottsdale Healthcare.
Carosella urged vaccination annually because the flu vaccine is reformulated each year to address the strains of flu virus being seen across the nation.
There are two types of flu vaccines: The actual "flu shot" vaccine that contains killed flu virus and a nasal-spray flu vaccine, which contains a live, weakened flu virus.
"Neither will cause you to catch the flu. Flu vaccine also will not prevent disease from other viruses," said Carosella.
The shot is approved for individuals aged six months and up. The nasal vaccine is approved for people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. If you have had a bad reaction to flu vaccine in the past, ask your doctor before being vaccinated.
While flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, Carosella noted that other ways to increase your chances of remaining flu-free include:
• Wash your hands after covering a cough, sneeze and blowing your nose.
• Cough or sneeze into a tissue, or cough into your sleeve. Flu viruses are primarily spread through droplets that are coughed or sneezed from an infected person.
• Avoid close contact with those who are sick. If you are sick, avoid contact with others.
• Try not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth.
• Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, staying hydrated and managing stress.