PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It's the height of flu season, and it probably seems as though everyone around you is coming down with the flu. Still, it's not too late to protect yourself, family, and friends from this serious illness. Independence Blue Cross (IBC) is urging its members to get their flu shots and offering ways to avoid getting sick.
"Although most people get the flu vaccine between September and November, the flu season lasts through April, with most cases occurring between late December and early March," said Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer for Independence Blue Cross. "It's ideal to get vaccinated early, but the flu shot can still be helpful and offer protection against the virus during the next few months. Instead of ending up in bed missing school or work for a few days or longer, invest a little bit of time in getting the vaccine."
There are at least five good reasons to get the flu shot if you haven't already:
- Flu symptoms can truly make you feel miserable and can lead to even more serious illnesses, including pneumonia;
- Having the flu can aggravate chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease;
- There's a good chance you'll end up missing at least some time, maybe a lot of time, at work or school if you come down with the flu;
- You could infect other people even if you don't get that sick yourself, especially those at high risk such as infants, nursing home residents and people with chronic conditions; and
- Flu strains change every year, reinforcing the need for a vaccination every year.
Flu shots remain readily available including at doctors' offices, urgent care centers, and at many retail pharmacies. Because the flu shot is a preventive service, it is generally covered at no cost to members.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It's especially important for some people to get vaccinated including:
- those at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu;
- those who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease;
- pregnant women;
- people 65 years and older; and
- people who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications.
"The flu vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent illness. It's relatively painless, widely available, and low cost or no cost. I can't think of a healthier way to start the new year," added Snyder.
Flu prevention tips
IBC reminds those who are ill to take the following steps to help prevent spreading flu viruses to others:
- Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading the illness to others.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after using it.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Seek care if you have flu-like symptoms.
For more information about the flu, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/
About Independence Blue Cross
Proudly celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2013, Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we have 3.1 million members nationwide. We are enhancing the health and wellness of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more about how we're changing the game, visit www.ibx.com. Connect with us on Facebook at ibx.com/facebook and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Independence Blue Cross
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Source:Independence Blue Cross