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Life Lessons: Flu facts

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 14 2013 04:00:00 AM CDT

We're into the flu season: what can you do to protect yourself and your family?

The CDC says every year, the flu season is unpredictable because the flu virus is constantly changing.

But one thing's for certain, the flu season has already started.

Experts say flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February, but the official start of the flu season is early October.

What can you do to protect yourself and your family?

The signs are everywhere...signs that the flu season is here.

"The best thing you can do with flu season coming on is get yourself a flu vaccine," says Dr. Amit Gangoli.

Dr. Gangoli, who specializes in infectious diseases at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, says we should all get vaccinated as soon as we can.

But some people say they get the flu from the flu shot. Is that possible?

"For people who say they got the flu from the flu shot: it takes about two weeks after you get the vaccine for your body to develop antibodies so in that period if you've been exposed, you could actually get the flu itself and your vaccine never had time to take effect," says Dr. Gangoli.
 
 If everyone else is getting a flu shot, why do you need to?

"The more people you vaccinate, you raise the critical mass of people that are less likely to transmit it to other people," says Dr. Gangoli.

His second tip? Wash your hands often and the right way.

"What you want to do is wash them with soap and warm water and be able to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice."

Of course there will be other nasty colds and viruses this winter so here are other tips:

*Clean surfaces that can harbor germs like computers and doorknobs.
*Don't touch your face throughout the day
*Get plenty of rest
*Eat right
*Stay away from people who are sick

"The incubation period for influenza is about eight days. You actually can transmit it one day before you get symptoms and for seven days thereafter," says Dr. Gangoli.

Check here for flu shot clinics offered in the Lehigh Valley.