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Fitness

Flu Facts

Get your free vaccine and protect yourself this winter
©Shutterstock
©Shutterstock

How can I avoid the flu?
One, get vaccinated—it’s free. All Soldiers are required to get the flu vaccine. Get your vaccine through TRICARE insurance at a nearby participating pharmacy or during an upcoming drill weekend at no cost. 

Two, wash your hands regularly. Wash them before and after eating, after using the restroom, and after you’ve been exposed to large crowds or sick individuals. Apply soap to wet hands and lather for 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song.

What is the flu shot? 
It’s a vaccine, or immunization, that helps your body build up resistance to viruses like the flu. It protects against the three or four most common strains of flu virus each year. Most flu vaccines are given as a shot, but they also come as a nasal spray. Both protect against the same flu strains, but the spray may not always be available due to health and allergy restrictions.

Why do I need it? 
According to experts, up to 20 percent of the population gets the flu each year. As you may remember, having the flu can be pretty awful: headaches, high fevers, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting. No thanks. 

Because the flu virus changes and mutates, it’s important to get the vaccine every year. Since the flu vaccine protects against only the most common strains, there is no guarantee that you won’t get the flu. But studies show the flu shot can reduce the risk of catching the virus by about 60 percent.

Can I get the flu from the shot itself? 
You cannot get the flu from the shot because the shot doesn’t contain a live flu virus. The most common side effect is a mild soreness where the shot was given. In rare cases, a flu shot can trigger an allergic reaction or a headache—but never the flu. 

If I catch the flu, what can help? 
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, antiviral medications can lessen the side effects and help you recover faster. Reach out to your Medical Readiness NCO immediately after noticing signs of the flu.


SHOT OPTIONS
You can get your flu shot on base during drill weekend. But you can also get it for free if you have TRICARE. For locations near you where you can get the shot, go to: TRICARE.mil/coveredservices/pharmacy/drugs/vaccines.

And for more health tips, check out GuardYourHealth.com.