Health Matters | The Flu and You

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The Flu and You

Fall has arrived and so have the great things that arrive with it: Fall festivals, changing leaves, cooler days, pumpkins, and flu season. The flu (seasonal influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness and result in hospitalization or death in severe cases. As flu season begins, it is important to take steps to keep your family healthy. The best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is by getting vaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. The vaccine protects against influenza viruses that research indicates will be the most common during this flu season. The vaccine is not a guarantee that you will not become infected, especially if the strain of flu is not in the vaccine. However, it greatly reduces the risk.

Who is at higher risk of getting the flu if not vaccinated?
  • People who tend to develop serious complications if they get sick with the flu.
  • Others who live with or care for these people.
  • People who have certain medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
  • Pregnant women.
  • People younger than 5 years and older than 65 years.
  • Health care personnel.

The following people should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician:
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness, with or without a fever. These individuals should not be vaccinated until they recover.
  • People who have had an allergic reaction to eggs.
  • People who have had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past.

When should you be vaccinated?
It is recommended that you get your flu vaccine as the vaccine becomes available in your area. Flu vaccines last throughout the flu season and can help to prevent illness during the peak months of flu, which are usually January and February. It generally takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to take full effect. Early immunization is the most effective, but it is not too late to get the vaccine in December, January, or later.

Flu shots are available at Patient First through our Fast Track Flu Program. You can walk in without an appointment, and receive your flu shot with little or no wait time. If your insurance covers flu shots at Patient First, you pay only the copay (which is often $0) or $35, whichever is less. Self-pay flu shot cost is $35. Fast Track flu shots are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day, and are for patients who are not allergic to eggs, do not wish to see a physician, and are at least 4 years old. To find a center near you, please visit our locations page.

The key to fighting the flu lies in being proactive now. Do not wait until you or someone in your family starts feeling sick. Once you feel that first muscle ache and stuffy nose, it’s too late. Take charge of your health and enjoy the autumn and winter.

  • Prepare for the Week with Meal Prep
    Cooking dinner every night can be such a chore when you are tired and just want to relax after a long day. To save time during the week, many people use the meal preparation system to prepare all of their meals for the week in one day.

    This technique not only ensures you’re eating the correct portions, but also a well-balanced diet. Preparing your meals ahead also helps you save money by encouraging you to eat at home more often. Planning your meals will ensure that you are using fresh ingredients and prevent you from eating prepackaged meals.

    How does meal preparation work?
    Start by picking a meal preparation day - a day designated to slice, cook, and saute all of your meat, veggies and fruits for the week. On that day, you will prepare all of your meals for the week and store them in storage containers in your fridge. Storing all of your meals prevents you from having to portion, wash, chop, and cook your food on a daily basis. Most food will stay fresh for up to 5 days, so only plan for a week at a time.

    Want to give it a try?
    Below is a sample grocery list containing all of the items you’ll need for the week:
    • 1 ½ lbs flank steak
    • 6 oz chicken
    • 6 oz fish
    • 6 oz lean deli meat
    • Corn tortillas
    • Sweet potatoes
    • 100% Whole Wheat or Flour Tortillas
    • Baby carrots
    • 1 each red and green bell pepper
    • 1 bag of greens
    • 1 avocado
    • 1 tomato
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 green onion
    • 1 bunch of garlic
    • 1 red cabbage
    • Cilantro and parsley
    • 1 each lemon and lime
    • 1 apple
    • 1 pear
    • 2 containers of berries
    • 1 mango
    • 1 each orange and tangerine
    • 1 grapefruit

    Other items you may need include:
    • Natural peanut butter
    • Reduced-fat mayonnaise
    • Dijon mustard
    • Salsa
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Honey
    • Tobasco sauce
    • Dried spices
    • Chicken stock
    • Brown rice
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Marinara sauce
    • Pickles
    • Canned black beans
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Hummus
    • Low fat dressing
    • Blackened seasoning

    What can you make with these ingredients?
    • Tilapia with brown rice & spinach salad
    • Lean deli meat wrap, carrots, hummus & fruit
    • Grilled flank steak with potato squares and salad
    • Chicken salad
    • Fish tacos
    • Flank steak wrap and berries
    • Chicken pasta marinara & salad
    • Pasta
    • Low fat chicken Caesar salad
    • Flatbread chicken sandwich & fruit

    How do you prepare the ingredients?
    To prepare meats:
    • Flank Steak: Rub flank steak with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce. Grill or cook the steak to your liking.
    • Chicken: Rub chicken with salt and pepper. Then coat the chicken breast with 3 tbsp of honey mustard dressing and grill or cook in a pan until juice runs clear.
    • Fish: Sprinkle 3 oz of fish with blackened seasoning.

      If you're cooking salmon, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While it's preheating, melt 1/2 tbsp of butter and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a saucepan. Drizzle the mixture over the fish, sprinkle with dill weed and bake for 15 minutes.

      If you're cooking white fish, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. While it's preheating, combine a 1/2 tbsp of lime juice, 1/8 tsp of onion powder and 1/8 tsp of black pepper in a bowl and drizzle over the fish. Top fish with olive oil, bake for 20 minutes and sprinkle with parsley.

    To prepare your veggies:
    • Wash, cut and store green and red peppers, onions and red cabbage.
    • Sauté four peppers and half an onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil.

    To prepare your starch:
    • Rice: Cook rice according to package directions.
    • Pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions.
    • Sweet Potatoes: Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch squares, coat them with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

    Portion each of your foods into their appropriate container and store in the fridge. This way when you come home from your long day, your food is already prepared, tasty and waiting! Just pop it into the microwave and serve!

    Recipe Source

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