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Build community immunity: Get your flu vaccine

Nov 12, 2018

Your newborn baby. A co-worker. Your elderly aunt.

You could harm any of them if you gave them the flu. A case of flu in an otherwise healthy person might mean a few days off work or school curled up in bed. But for some, flu can lead to serious complications—including hospitalization or even death.

Isolating yourself when you start to feel ill may not be enough, either. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that people with flu are most contagious in the first three or four days after their illness begins. However some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others one day before symptoms begin and up to five days after becoming sick.

We all need to do our part to protect those who are most at risk. Everyone age 6 months and older should get the flu shot each year. Practicing simple steps to prevent the spread of disease can also help—washing your hands, avoiding contact with people who are sick, and covering coughs and sneezes can prevent a variety of respiratory infections, not just flu.

When more of us are vaccinated and take basic precautions to prevent the spread of illnesses, we build community immunity. This keeps everyone safe.

Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Dr. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist. He earned an MD, an OB/GYN residency and a master’s of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He also obtained a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School. In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department.

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