Cooler temperatures and fewer hours of daylight seem to be the perfect circumstance for the flu virus to thrive. So, with flu season just around the corner it’s a good time for a few reminders on how to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy. This is particularly important for our seniors who have a greater risk of developing more complicated secondary illnesses, such as pneumonia.

How does the flu virus spread?

The flu virus spreads by droplets that can transfer through the air or live on surfaces. When an infected person coughs or sneezes they spread the droplets that contain the virus. Catching the virus can happen simply by breathing in those droplets or touching something that has the virus on it and then touching your own eyes, nose or mouth.

How do I avoid getting the flu?

Your first line of defence is always thorough and frequent hand washing and do your best to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

Get vaccinated! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the national and international health trends exhaustively to formulate vaccines that will have the greatest impact overall. Each year they issue a vaccine that will cover three (trivalent) or sometimes four (quadrivalent) strains of influenza that the CDC determines will be most prevalent during the flu season.

When possible, limit your exposure to people who are sick with the flu until they are better.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat well, stay hydrated and make every effort to get some exercise, even if it’s only a walk around the block.

Can I get the flu from the vaccine?

This is a common misunderstanding. The flu vaccine can be
administered in two forms: a flu shot which contains a killed form of the virus and a nasal spray form in which the virus is significantly weakened to the point where it will not cause infection. Side effects may include redness or swelling at the injection site and possibly a headache or a low-grade fever that lasts no longer than a day.

If you have specific health conditions (such as allergies, asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are pregnant) see your doctor and ask if there are any special considerations you need to be aware of.

How much does the flu shot cost?

The flu shot is covered by Medicare, as well as many private health plans.

Where can I get a flu shot administered?

Clare Medical is bringing flu clinics to the doors of New Jersey senior communities, if you are interested in having Clare host a clinic at your location call (609) 474-0120 or email There is no need to wait though; seniors can also get flu shots at their next scheduled visit with a Clare physician or with a regular family doctor.

Are there any treatments if I get the flu?

Antivirals are a prescription medication and can be issued by your doctor. These medicines can shorten the length and severity of the symptoms of the flu; they work best if they are issued as soon as symptoms start to appear.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institute on Aging websites.