If you get the flu this year, you’ll be off your feet for quite some time and are at risk for developing a number of serious complications. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 50 and 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. are of adults older than 65. To protect yourself and the members of your retirement community, take these recommended preventative steps as flu season rolls around.

New recommendations
You probably know that you should get a flu shot every year. This vaccination is covered by Medicare, so see your doctor as soon as possible to get protected. However, you might also want to discuss a new immunization that can help you even more. The CDC recently released a study that showed a new vaccine called Prevnar 13 can offer additional protection against the flu when paired with a traditional shot. The vaccine has been used for years to protect against pneumonia and meningitis, but now scientists are recommending it be used to protect against the seasonal flu as well. Talk with your doctor about the benefits of this vaccination. However, be aware that Medicare may not not cover the expense of this immunization.

Good health habits
In addition to getting your flu shot, take preventive measures during your day-to-day activities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended washing your hands often, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy foods. All these habits will help to bolster your immune system and make you less prone to the virus. Additionally, you should avoid contact with people who are sick, even if they just have a cold.

Seek treatment immediately
If you begin to experience flu-like symptoms, see your doctor immediately. There are antiviral drugs that you can take to prevent the onset of the disease, but they need to be taken as early as possible. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches or chills, contact your physician. The flu sometimes presents without a fever, so get medical advice even if you think it’s just a cold. Taking extra precautions will help to keep you healthy and active throughout the winter so you can enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.