How 5 People With Weakened Immune Systems Prep for Flu Season

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Even the mildest colds can quickly turn into pneumonia for me. In the winter, I often struggle through infections more often than I don’t. I live in a full house with my parents, my two nieces, and my sister, who all work and go to school, so avoiding illness is pretty much impossible. As a result, I’m constantly at doctors’ offices or receiving treatments. I’ve been on more than 13 antibiotics this year alone.

To give my body the best chance of fighting off the flu, COVID, and other illnesses, I stay up to date on my recommended vaccinations. My providers are super on the ball. I see them often enough that as soon as “that time of year” approaches, they load me up with every vaccine I need or give me a game plan for all the vaccines I need to get. A couple of years ago, I learned I’m eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine and it’s been super helpful. For me and other people with weakened immune systems, vaccines are literally life-saving.

I try to keep my distance when family members are sick, too. But when you live with a six- and an eight-year-old, it’s impossible—and feels just wrong—to avoid contact. So, I get sick—a lot. It’s a terrifying reality. Thankfully, I have extraordinary friends who understand the severity of my illness, and they will cancel plans with me or send me a warning text if they even have symptoms of a cold.

—Megan Marjorie, 28, Gunnison, Utah

5. “I make big-batch meals and freeze them to have on hand if I get sick.”

I have psoriatic arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. The medications I take to keep my symptoms under control suppress my immune system, so I have a higher risk of getting sick and it takes me longer to fight off infections. For me, a simple cold can last up to six weeks and become pretty severe. I’m always scared that I’ll miss too much work—or, worse, end up in the emergency room. Getting sick for a long time not only affects my health but also my finances, career, family—everything.

For me, cold weather triggers more arthritis pain, and it’s the time of year when people start spending more time indoors, increasing my chances of catching a cold, the flu, or something else. So before virus season is in full swing, I make big-batch meals and freeze them to have on hand if I get sick. My go-to recipes include soups, chilis, casseroles, quiches, and frozen pizzas. I do this as soon as we start approaching fall.

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