"Everyone should get a flu shot. The best thing is to not get it, so getting the vaccine is the most important thing and it's not too late still to get the vaccine," advises Dr. Katherine Prihoda, a clinical assistant professor with the Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden. "If you do get the flu the best thing is to stay home."
For the last several years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has observed flu season peaks in the month of February. The CDC is reporting widespread flu activity across the state of New Jersey and in most parts of Pennsylvania, which is expected to continue through the month of May. Dr. Kathie Prihoda offers expert tips on flu treatment and prevention, beginning with a simple first step: get the flu shot.
Prihoda, who is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, points out that it's not too late to vaccinate. She stresses the widely held misconception, that the flu shot gives people the flu, is an old myth. The flu vaccine works by helping people to make antibodies and develop a defense against the flu. In fact, she says, when a majority of people get a flu shot they create herd immunity — which can help prevent flu from spreading in their communities.
The CDC reported in 2018 that the number of children who aren't being vaccinated by 24-months-old has been gradually increasing. The percentage of unvaccinated babies and toddlers quadrupaled from 2001 to 2015. Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) releases a list of top ten threats to global health; the 2019 list includes influenza pandemic, and for the first time, people who oppose vaccination — what the WHO refers to as 'vaccine-hesitancy.'
What if you have the flu? Prihoda says to stay home to avoid giving the flu to others, especially individuals who may have compromised immune systems. Staying home allows you to rest, hydrate, take medication, and recover faster.
Through February, Camden County N.J. residents can get a flu shot thanks to the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services' Flu Shot program.