Staying Strong Through Flu Season: Intermountain Health's Guide to Wellness

February 2024

by hannah olson

As the winter persists, so does the heightened risk of influenza and other illnesses like COVID and RSV. The flu season is upon us, and it's crucial to take proactive measures to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones now and each year. Intermountain Health in Billings, Montana, emerges as a beacon of health awareness and prevention, offering a range of services, including flu vaccinations, to ensure the community's well-being. 

The analogy that a flu shot is like a winter coat is apt—it won't guarantee absolute immunity, but it significantly reduces the risk of severe illness or hospitalization. Despite receiving the vaccine, there remains a possibility of catching the flu, but the severity of the symptoms is notably diminished. This emphasizes the importance of flu shots as a fundamental step in fortifying one's defenses against the unpredictable nature of the flu virus. 

Recognizing and Preventing Viruses 

One often underestimated aspect of the flu is its rapid onset and potential to spread before symptoms manifest. Without the shield of a flu shot, individuals can unknowingly become carriers and pass on the virus to their loved ones. Getting vaccinated protects you and acts as a vital barrier, preventing the inadvertent transmission of the flu to vulnerable family members. 

Family Medicine Physician Dr. Duane Teerink, D.O., who works out of the newly constructed Intermountain Health West End Clinic, is an advocate for illness prevention and stresses the importance of quality sleep, physical activity, decreasing stress, and eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and both vitamins C and D. Although these things seem obvious enough, the business of daily life can deter us from maintaining these healthy habits and contribute to illnesses. “If you do get the flu, there are over-the-counter and homeopathic remedies that you can use,” Dr. Teerink says. Still, he also stresses that if you are experiencing more severe symptoms like fever, body aches, or prolonged symptoms, he encourages patients to be seen by their provider. 

Certain demographic groups, such as children under two, individuals over 65, and those with pre-existing conditions, face a higher risk of severe illness. Even if you don't fall into these high-risk categories, you may interact with someone who does. To create a protective network around vulnerable individuals, it is imperative that everyone aged six months and older get their flu shot. 

Vaccine Recommendations and Tips 

The flu virus undergoes constant changes, much like the seasons. Staying up-to-date with regular vaccinations every six months to a year ensures you have the latest and most effective protection. This proactive approach becomes particularly crucial as the effectiveness of older flu shots diminishes over time. Keeping your immunization current is a simple yet powerful strategy to shield yourself from the evolving flu strains. 

The flu vaccine is the most effective means of safeguarding yourself and your family. A single shot can make a significant difference, offering a shield against the potential severity of the illness. It is a simple yet powerful act of protection that can resonate throughout your community. 

Addressing concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, it's important to note that the vaccine cannot cause a flu infection. Any side effects, if experienced, are mild and short-lived compared to the potential severity of the flu itself. Trusting in the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine is key to fostering a culture of preventative healthcare. 

Moreover, getting vaccinated is quick, easy, and often comes at a low or no cost to individuals. Many insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid, cover or significantly reduce the cost, ensuring that financial barriers do not hinder the community's access to vital preventive care.  

Looking to Intermountain Health for your Healthcare Needs 

Intermountain Health, formerly SCL Health, in Billings is a beacon of health during the cold and flu seasons. With walk-in clinics strategically located across the city, accessible from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, the community has convenient access to flu vaccinations and healthcare services. These clinics include West End Clinic at 602 Henry Chapple St., N 27th Clinic at 1027 N 27th St., Broadwater Clinic at 2019 Broadwater Ave., Heights Clinic at 32 Wicks Ln., and Laurel Clinic at 331 S Washington Ave, Ste. B, in Laurel. 

By taking advantage of the services provided by Intermountain Health, the community not only ensures their well-being but also contributes to a healthier and more resilient society. Let's prioritize preventive healthcare this flu season, embrace the flu shot as our armor, and enjoy the holiday season with our families, not our providers. 

Originally printed in the February 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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