The Chicago fall season is a welcome time of year for many of us. Cooler weather, beautiful foliage, fun costumes, cozy sweaters, and of course, treats, are all top reasons to look forward to the autumn months. Unfortunately, fall is also the unofficial start of flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu season often begins as early as October and can last as long as late May.
Be prepared this year, from October until June with these simple tips for helping your family to thrive during a Chicago flu season:
Get a Flu Shot
Getting a yearly influenza vaccination is crucial in preventing the spread of the illness and in protecting your family’s health. Get your family vaccinated as soon as possible. It is important to vaccinate every year; flu viruses are often changing, which means vaccines are updated regularly to meet the need.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an injectable vaccine of inactivated influenza vaccine or recombinant influenza vaccine for the 2017-2018 flu season. The nasal vaccine is no longer recommended.
For more information, please visit the CDC for more information:
Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season
Illinois Department of Public Health Influenza Surveillance
Teach and Practice frequent hand washing
Hand washing, while important and useful is often overlooked. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer:
- After using the restroom
- Before and after changing a diaper
- Before you eat
- After you eat
- As soon as you return home from (anywhere!)
- After touching common public surfaces such as elevator buttons, doorknobs, and gas pumps or sharing pens (that is a limited list so don’t stop there!)
- After shaking hands
- After you sneeze, cough or blow your nose
- After you clean your kids’ nose
This list can go on and on forever. The best advice is to carry and use hand sanitizer, wash your hands often, and treat all common spaces like little illness incubators, waiting for you to forget your secret weapon: soap.
Eat a Wholesome Diet
Now, more than ever, a healthy diet is essential to keeping you and your family healthy. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and wholesome, organic food provide key nutrients to keep your mind, muscles and immune system healthy and strong. Keep in mind these useful tips to make sure your body is properly nourished:
- Eat a fruit and a vegetable at every meal
- Do meal planning and prep each week
- Take this quick assessment at ChooseMyPlate.Gov to receive a FREE and PRINTABLE customized food checklist based on your individual and specific caloric needs to help you make the most out of every meal.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. That’s right, drink lots of water!
Good for the heart, good for your waste and yes, good for your immune system, getting regular exercise is an essential part of the equation for staying healthy during flu season. Chicago weather is cold but there are many indoor options to try to get your heart rate up:
- The Chicago Park District has many indoor gyms with membership starting at $17 a month
- YouTube has thousands of free workout videos from yoga and Pilates to Zumba and HIIT that you can do from the comfort of your own home
- Similarly, there are many apps that you can download to your cell phone or tablet that provide free or low-cost personal training
- If you are brave and able to face the winter weather: layer up and get outside for a brisk walk 30 minutes a day.