Medical Advice: Your flu prevention to-do list

AS YOU GATHER your “to-do” lists and prepare for the holiday season ahead, the Florida Department of Health in Polk County recommends you add one more important step — get a flu shot! The flu shot is the best way to protect our families and communities against the spread of influenza. When you make it a priority to get a flu shot early, you decrease your chance of getting the flu.

The flu shot is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older. People at high risk of developing flu-related complications, such as young children, adults 65 years of age and older, and pregnant women, are most strongly encouraged to receive a flu vaccine. Individuals who are currently ill, those with an egg allergy, or those who previously have an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine should discuss this with their health-care provider. The flu vaccine is safe for almost everyone.

The vaccine is widely available and takes just a few minutes to receive. The flu vaccine by shot or nasal spray is available in many locations, including your doctor’s office, clinics, pharmacies, and schools, as well as the health department.

Here are some additional steps you can take to help protect yourself:

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

• Keep your hands away from your face.

• If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu including fever, headache, severe cough, runny nose, and body aches, see your primary care provider as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medications is important and can help people recover more quickly, as well as help prevent complications.

Don’t let the flu take the fun out of this holiday season. Let’s be proactive and take these simple steps to minimize your chances of getting sick this flu season. For more information, please visit


article by DR. JOY JACKSON, director of FDOH-Polk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) and as a Polk County Medical Association member. For more information about the FDOH-Polk, visit

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