Tips for Surviving Flu Season – from a Pharmacist and Mom of 3!

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As a registered pharmacist and a mom of 3, dealing with flu season is a big part of my life personally and professionally.  At work and at home I strive to do all I can to keep my patients and my family healthy.


Here are some tips to help your family stay healthy this flu season.

  1. Wash your hands OFTEN and make sure your kids know the proper way to wash their hands.  Hand hygiene is so simple and plays such an import part role in minimizing the spread of disease.  Not only is it important to wash your hands but to teach your children the proper way to wash their hands as well.  For my oldest son he likes to sing a little song while he scrubs.  When the song is over, he knows its time to rinse.  For my younger son, he likes to count.  When he reaches 20, he knows its time to rinse.  Whatever method your child likes, find it and review it with them every year to ensure they remember how to wash and for how long to wash.  Here is a link on handwashing practices if you need a refresher: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
  2. Stock up on OTC meds BEFORE you get sick. Keep a basic supply of over-the-counter medications on hand at home. This way when you or your family member wakes up sick, you are not rushing out in a frenzy to get basic relief.  I recommend keeping pain/fever medication ( Motrin/Tylenol), a cough suppressant (Mucinex DM is my fav), an antihistamine (like Zyrtec), a decongestant (Sudafed), and cough drops on hand.  In my house I keep tablets/capsules for adults as well as liquid versions for my kids.  Being prepared makes it so much easier when illness strikes in the middle of the night.  
  3. If you need a medication recommendation, ask a professional.  Not your random friend or neighbor, not Dr. Google, and NOT social media.  While your friends and family have all the best intentions, they often pass on bad, wrong, or even potentially harmful information.  Your pharmacist is the most accessible health professional in the community.  You can go into any retail pharmacy and ask them a question for FREE.  Utilize their knowledge.  Or call your pediatrician or your pediatrician’s nurse and ask them.  All too often while browsing social media I witness people asking “everyone” for recommendations and then see their friends/family recommending the OPPOSITE of what they need.  Don’t let that happen to you! 
  4. Get your flu shot.  I realize that not all people are able to receive vaccines.  As a professional and a mom, I understand that.  But if you and your family can receive vaccines, get the flu shot.  It’s far from perfect and some years its more effect than others but some protection is better than none.  And if the mercury content in some formulations concerns you, ask for a preservative free version.  Preservative free flu vaccines contain ZERO mercury.
  5. Clean/sanitize shopping carts and high chairs BEFORE you put your child in them. As a pharmacist, shopping carts make me cringe. I can’t tell you how many sick kids ride in them everyday.  Kids with the flu, strep throat, or even whooping cough.  Sick kids unintentionally COAT carts in germs and then healthy kids load up in them and unknowingly incubate as they ride. The same goes for high chairs. My recommendation would be to carry Clorox wipes with your in your diaper bag and wipe ALL surfaces that your child is going to touch and then let it dry for a minute or so before your put your child in a shopping cart or highchair. They also make covers for shopping carts/high chairs that can help minimize your child’s contact with germs. My family uses both. You can never completely protect your child from germs but you can take steps to minimize their exposure, especially during flu season.
  6. Remember the old saying “You catch more flys with honey than with vinegar” applies at the pharmacy too!  Basically meaning, you’re going to get a lot farther with kindness than with ugliness.  Remember that when you go to the pharmacy needing your prescription ASAP that threatening, yelling, and a bad attitude aren’t going to get you or your child meds any faster.  Most pharmacists I know are sincerely caring individuals and they got into this profession because they truly want to help people.  Keep in mind that during flu season 90% of patients at the pharmacy are sick, grumpy, stressed, and wanting their or their family’s meds NOW.  We go as fast (while still being safe) as we can.  We care.  If you have a concern, ALWAYS speak up but just do it nicely.  Your pharmacist and their staff would really appreciate it.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your family to better survive this flu season! 

Happy Handwashing

& Stay Warm, Coastal Bend!

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Rachel and her family are new to the Coastal Bend. They moved here last fall from a small town north of Austin where they lived for the last 10 years. Rachel is a part time pharmacist and a full time mom of 3! Her faith in Jesus and her love of family are the cornerstones of her life. Originally an Okie, she has a bachelors degree from Oklahoma State (Go Pokes!) and a Pharm D from Southwestern Oklahoma State. She works a few days a month as a relief pharmacist for a retail pharmacy chain and as an author for a company that sells pharmacy study materials. She has been married to her high school sweetheart since 2005 and stays busy with their 6 and 4 year old boys, their 18 month old baby girl, and their 3 dogs. Rachel and her family LOVE the beach and all the activities that come along with it! She also loves to craft, scrapbook, decorate, party plan, on-line bargain shop, travel, and garden. Rachel is a big fan of sunshine, Mexican food, organization, and Diet Coke. She feels very blessed in this life and is excited to be a part of CCMB!

4 COMMENTS

    • Hi Pricilla! Walgreens 😉 !! But to be fair, most retail pharmacies usually keep at least some preservative free flu shots on hand. However, Walgreens in particular has a large supply of them this year 🙂

  1. As a fellow pharmacist, mom and CMB author, your advice is spot on! Thanks for sharing this practical and meaningful advice.

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