The flu has hit harder and earlier across the nation this season. Boston has already experienced 700 cases of the flu – up from 70 cases last season – prompting the city's mayor Thomas Menino to declare a flu health emergency. Massachusetts has had 18 flu-related deaths so far, according to the state's Department of Public Health.
Pregnant women are among the groups considered the most vulnerable for catching the flu. A weaker immune system puts pregnant women at higher risk for more severe illness as well as birth complications. But experts say there’s no need to panic since there are many ways to protect against the flu.
Get the flu shot. It’s not too late. It’s likely that the flu shot won’t provide full protection, especially against certain strains, but many immunologists say something is better than nothing. The good news is that health centers and pharmacies in Boston will be offering free vaccines.
Stay away from anyone who is sick. Pregnant women are at an increased risk to catch whatever illness is contagious, even if it’s not the flu.
Practice good health hygiene and encourage others around you to do the same. We may use our elbows to cover our mouths when we sneeze or cough, and perhaps we already sing the ABC's to ourselves while we wash our hands. Some additional practices to consider are wiping down your work station such as your keyboard, mouse and phone before and after use. This is a good precaution especially if multiple people use one workstation. Perhaps even bring in some disposable wipes to work in case it's not provided.
Call your doctor right away if you’re experiencing any flu-like symptoms. That includes severe and persistent nausea, chest pains, and especially a high fever. Fevers caused by the flu or other infections may lead to birth defects in an unborn child, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s important to have a heightened awareness of the changes taking place in your body.
For more ways to protect against the flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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