PORTLAND, Maine – It’s a new year and a new decade, so there’s no better time to take steps toward a healthier future for you and your family.
Here are five simple things you can do right now to help keep those you care about healthy through our long New England winter…and for years to come.
- Get the flu vaccine. This year’s flu season is on track to be severe. Widespread flu activity has already been reported in both Maine and New Hampshire. It is not too late to get vaccinated, since flu usually peaks in the winter. A yearly flu shot will reduce your chances of getting the disease and prevent the spread of it to family, friends and vulnerable people in your community. And for those who get a flu shot and still get sick, symptoms tend to be milder and not last as long. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and up.
- Keep your baby up-to-date on immunizations. Immunizations help protect your baby and others from 14 serious diseases. On-time vaccination is the safest and best way to protect your baby, family and community. Talk to your child’s primary care provider to make sure they are on track with the recommended immunization schedule. Vaccinate on time, every time!
- Teens and preteens need immunizations, too! Maine high schools have already reported outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) this school year. Last year, nearly half of all pertussis cases in Maine occurred in children ages 11-18. In addition to receiving the Tdap vaccine (which protects against pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus), teens and preteens should receive vaccinations for meningococcal disease and HPV. Check with your health care provider to make sure your teen or preteen is up-to-date.
- Get outside. Maine and New Hampshire are full of natural beauty, so go outside and explore! From ice skating to getting outside for a snowball fight or a simple walk around the neighborhood, we are fortunate to have so many options for winter activities. Aim for least 30 minutes of activity each day to get energized and help lift your mood.
- Make the healthier choice. You don’t have to make big changes to get healthier. Take small steps like drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks, eating more whole grains and fruits and vegetables and limiting your family’s recreational screen time.
To learn more about the five tips mentioned here and other things you can do to keep your family healthy, visit mainehealth.org.