Spread Cheer, Not the Flu

It’s Not Too Late to Get the Influenza Vaccine

The holidays are a time for celebrating, spending time with friends and loved ones, shopping, baking, and decorating. It can also be the time of year when different illnesses start circulating, including the dreaded flu. That’s one gift no one wants to give or get!

This flu season officially began on October 15th and has been gaining steam as the year draws to a close. The Centers for Disease Control reported that nearly 26,000 Americans were hospitalized with the flu during the first week of December 2022. (Centers for Disease Control , 2022) That number is higher than in many prior years, and based on historical data, it will likely increase before the end of traditional flu season, which is expected to occur sometime in the spring. Considering the prevalence of other respiratory illnesses this time of year, it’s wise to put some precautionary steps into your holiday celebrations to stay both happy and healthy!

Prevent the Spread

Most medical professionals suggest that the first and strongest step people can take to prevent getting sick is to get the flu vaccine. Although many people got theirs earlier in the fall, it is not too late to get the shot even now; even as late as the early spring is fine.  The earlier the better but late is better than not taking the vaccine. The vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully effective, offering plenty of protection for the weeks to come. This year’s vaccine is designed to fight multiple variations of the flu. So far in 2022, Influenza Type A is the dominant strain, affecting nearly 75% of those with the flu. (SingleCare Team, 2022)  Regardless of which type you may be exposed to, the flu vaccine is highly effective at preventing or lessening the symptoms, severity, and length of illness.

Common sense precautions are always good to follow this time of year as well. Those include:

  1. Wash your hands in hot water with soap. If water and soap are unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
  2. Avoid touching your face with your hands. This is a very common way of spreading germs, which can gain access to your body through the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Cover you coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue. Throw the tissue away immediately.
  4. Clean and disinfect services.
  5. Avoid contact with people who are sick or being around others if you are.

Know the Signs

Another step you can take to prevent the spread of the flu is to know the signs and symptoms. That way, if you or someone you know starts to feel ill, you can take action early to feel better and stop the spread.

Some of the symptoms of the flu, a cold, and COVID-19 overlap, and it can be challenging to know the difference. A doctor can test you for the flu and COVID, but not a cold.

The National Institute of Aging created this graphic that outlines the various symptoms of the three illnesses. (NIH/NIA, 2022)

Chart showing the differences between cold, flu, and COVID-19.











Treatment Options

So what happens if you do, in fact, have the flu? Your best bet is to get to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. When caught in its early stages, the flu can be treated with antiviral medications that can lessen the symptoms and duration of your illness. For individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions, earlier treatment might also help to prevent complications from the flu like pneumonia. Bottom line, if you think you might be sick – talk to your healthcare provider to determine if it’s a mild cold or something more serious.

Educate Yourself

If you are curious about where to get a flu shot in your community or if you want to know the prevalence of flu near where you live, check on your local or state department of health website.


Centers for Disease Control . (2022, December 9). Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report. Retrieved from CDC.gov: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

NIH/NIA. (2022, June 14). Flu and Older Adults. Retrieved from National Institute on Health National Institute on Aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/flu-and-older-adults

SingleCare Team. (2022, October 6). Influenza A Vs. Influenza B - What's the Difference? Retrieved from SingleCare.com: https://www.singlecare.com/blog/influenza-a-vs-influenza-b/