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Supercharge your immune system to fight flu and COVID-19

The best way to prevent flu is to get an annual flu vaccine. The vaccine boosts your body’s immune system, helping you fight off the same influenza viruses, should you become infected in the near future.

But that’s not all you can do. When you take additional steps to boost your immune system, you strengthen your defences against flu, COVID-19 and a host of other health conditions.

Eligible members can call vHealth for advice or if they’re concerned they have flu.

Sleep more1,2

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night

People who sleep well are less likely to catch flu and more likely to recover quickly if they do catch it. Lack of sleep leads to decreased production of antibodies and infection-fighting proteins called cytokines.

Eat better3

No single food or nutrient can protect you from flu, but a healthy, balanced diet helps.

A diet rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron and protein can boost your immune system. At the same time, a diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in red meat and refined sugar can weaken your ability to fight infections.

Move your body4,5,6

Regular exercise can strengthen your immune system and lower your risk of respiratory infection by more than 40%.

As your heart rate increases, immune cells circulate throughout the body, an effect that can last up to three hours. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week(at a moderate rate, you should be able to talk but not sing). Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Address stress7

Learn to manage stress with practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation.

When you’re under stress, your body produces less infection-fighting lymphocytes. Moreover, stress can contribute to other conditions that suppress immunity, including poor diet and insufficient sleep. Try to meditate for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a week. If you need help, talk with a doctor or counsellor.

Stop smoking8,9,10

You boost immunity when you stop smoking — even after as little as a month.

Smoking reduces your body’s ability to fight off infection and can lead to more severe and longer-lasting bouts of flu. The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your body’s immune system can regain strength; one study found measurable improvements after just 31 days, even in light to moderate smokers.

As an Aetna member, take advantage of self-help and professional tools via Aetna Well-being: Pzizz – the sleep app; Wysa – the mental health app; Smoke Free – the smoking cessation app; ClassPass – access to global fitness classes and gyms. Log in to the Health Hub to access these resources and more.

This year, protecting yourself from flu is more important than ever, and we are here to help. As an Aetna International member, you can call us using the number on the back of your member ID card. Download the vHealth by Aetna app**. Log in to the Health Hub, your secure member website, to find out more about vHealth*, to contact the Aetna CARE team to ask health care questions or to search our directory of in-network hospitals or clinics. In Dubai? Download and log in to the vHealth (Dubai) app, contact the tollfree  number on 8000 35704672 or email**. In Thailand? Download the vHealth (Thailand) app**. For more information about your health care benefits, contact your plan sponsor.

Be a flu fighter. Protect yourself, protect others.

Speak to one of our experts about how we can help you support your international employees.

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