Your Quick Guide to Preventing the Flu
Amidst the public panic about the Corona Virus that is sweeping the globe, we are facing another ugly winter flu season here in Colorado. And unfortunately, if history holds true, it’s peaking right now, in the month of February. Ugh.
So far this flu season there have been an estimated 26 million cases of the flu in the US, including 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths. This flu season, which has been elevated for the last 21 weeks — already three months more than the average flu season of 18 weeks — also looks like it may drag on longer than normal.
But here’s the good news: the best way to prevent getting sick is by getting your flu shot. In fact, the flu vaccine has been 45% effective this year, compared to 29% efficacy last year. Best of all, the vaccine comes as a free benefit with every Friday health plan. You can find your closest vaccine provider here and get it done today. There are lots of convenient places besides doctors’ offices to get your shot, including grocery stores and pharmacies – most will bill Friday so it’s free to you.
While the flu vaccine is your best shot at staving off sickness, it’s important to know what you can do to strengthen your defenses and steer clear of the dreaded influenza.
1) Wash your hands and keep ‘em away from your face
This sounds like obvious advice, but it’s worth repeating. As way of example, only 70 percent of Americans wash their hands with soap after using the restroom.
Worse, lots of us will often touch our faces — scratch our noses, rub our chins, clear the sleep sand from our eyes — without washing our hands. This is how infections can start.
How often should you wash your hands each day?
According to the Global Hygiene Council, at least six times a day with soap (ideally ten).
2) Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep can dramatically affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t catch enough z’s are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. They’re also likely to make a slower recovery.
How much sleep is enough sleep? Between 7-9 hours of quality sleep should ensure your immune system is well-rested and armed with those infection-fighting antibodies to protect you throughout flu season.
We know, we know. It’s cold outside. It’s icy. It’s January. But you don’t have to run a marathon or do anything crazy — a few days of moderate physical activity each week can keep your immune system strong and decrease your risk of infection.
Important note: If you’re feeling really lousy (think: chest congestion, dizzying headaches, super sore throat), it’s probably best to take it easy until you recover!
4) Stay away from sick people!
The flu spreads through the noses and the mouths of sick people. So that co-worker who’s talking to you, the one who’s coughing into his or her hand in between sentences, s/he is spreading particles that could infect you.
Stay away from these people (and if you are one of these people, stay home! Your co-workers will thank you).
5) If you do happen to come down with the flu (sorry!), as a Friday member you have a few great, cost-effective options to get help:
Use a free doctor visit (you’ve got three of them per year)
Yep, as a Friday member, you get three free visits with your primary care doc. Have a free visit in the bag and you’re feeling fluey? Schedule an appointment and visit your doctor, for free. (Not available on the Bronze HSA plan.)
Talk to a doctor with Teladoc
Teladoc is the easiest and fastest way to get remote care from a medical professional for non-emergency illnesses like the flu.
As an extra benefit with every Friday health plan, you can speak to a doctor online or over the phone for a $45 flat fee. Access Teladoc by visiting their website here: Teladoc.
(This is an added service to your plan, so it does not go toward your deductible.)
Visit an in-network urgent care
Across the state of Colorado, we have a strong network of conveniently located urgent care centers. Most plans have a $75 co-pay (flat fee) to visit the urgent care*. You can see the full list in this article and find the one that’s closest to you!
*Catastrophic and Bronze HSA must first meet deductible, then urgent care is $0.
As always, if you have questions about your plan, benefits, or services, please reach out to our friendly Colorado-based customer service team: Questions@fridayhealthplans.com or 800-475-8466