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Ask Dr. Nandi: Flu season soars in the United States, especially in the south

Posted at 6:33 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 18:33:56-05

As flu season gains speed much quicker than usual especially for those living in the south, 7 children have died and over 850 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported by the CDC as of Dec 2.

Unfortunately, less than half of Americans have received the flu vaccine so far, roughly 39 percent. 

This is concerning because the flu can have serious complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections.

We may have a rougher flu season this year as preliminary estimates show the vaccine may be roughly 10 percent effective, but it’s still early in the season.   

And the vaccine could still help lessen the severity of the flu and help protect against serious complications.   

So everyone should do their part to protect themselves and their loved ones from catching the flu.

So here are my prescriptions:

1. It’s recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older should get a flu shot. It takes a few weeks before antibodies are produced but you’ll be ready when Christmas arrives – that’s when flu season picked up last year in Michigan.    

2. Boost your immune system by eating a variety of plant-based foods along with nuts, seeds, lean protein and whole grains. They’ll provide you with essential vitamins and minerals that can strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation and allow your body to fight off germs more easily.

3. If you do get sick, please stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks. Disinfect commonly used surfaces to lower the risk of getting loved ones sick.  

4. Practice good hand washing techniques as this helps keep germs from spreading. Use soap & water and scrub for 20 seconds.

Pregnant women, especially in their second and third trimester are very vulnerable to complications from the flu. 

If a pregnant woman gets the flu shot, there is evidence it may also protect her newborn from the flu in the first six months of life.   

Right now, about 1/3 of pregnant women have gotten the flu shot, according to the CDC.