National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 3-9 — are you ready for flu season?

Published Nov 26, 2017 at 9:00am

The federal Centers for Disease Control is gearing up for National Influenza Vaccination Week, which this year will fall from Dec. 3-9.

The flu is no present, particularly at holiday time, the CDC warns, adding that while many will just be down and out for a few days, the flu can be downright deadly for some, including the frail, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

As a result, the CDC suggests the “Take 3” approach to fighting the flu:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Stop germs
  • Take antiviral medication if prescribed by your doctor

Get Vaccinated:

The CDC recommends that everyone 6-months of age and older should get a seasonal flu vaccine. This not only helps to protect you, but others who cannot get vaccinated as well, such as young children under 6 months of age.

You can get vaccinated through your doctor, local pharmacy, or your local health department. Keep in mind that it typically takes about two weeks for the vaccine to start protecting you against the flu. When you get vaccinated you not only reduce your chances of getting the flu, but you also lower your chances of missing work or school, or becoming hospitalized with complications from by the virus.  

There are several forms of the flu vaccine:

Inactivated flu shot: This contains a safe level of inactivated (dead) virus. This is available for anyone 6-months of age and older.

High dose flu shot: Similar to the traditional flu shot, but it contains four times more antigens than the regular flu vaccine. This is specifically for people 65-years and older, and for those who have compromised immune systems.

FluBlok: This flu shot is available in some doctor’s offices for people who have a severe allergy to eggs.

Flu Mist (the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine) is not recommended for the 2017-18 flu season.

Stop Germs:

It is best to limit close contact with people who are sick, and if you are sick yourself, limit contact with others as much as possible.

Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. Either use a tissue, or if not available, cough into the corner of your arm. Make sure to dispose of the tissue and wash your hands with soap and water. It is important to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to help prevent germs from entering your body. Cleaning surfaces and items with a disinfectant is also helpful for preventing the spread of germs.  

Antiviral medication:

If diagnosed with the flu, your doctor may prescribe you antiviral medication. This medication can make the flu milder and shorten the time you are sick. Antiviral medication is often most effective when started within two days of getting sick, so if you have flu like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, see your doctor.

A little more info on the flu virus:

What is influenza?

Influenza or the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses.  

Symptoms?

People with the flu may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

Fever/feeling feverish/chills

Cough

Sore throat

Runny/Stuffy nose

Muscle and body aches

Headaches

Fatigue

Vomiting/diarrhea

How is the flu spread?

The flu is typically spread through droplet form when people infected with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. People can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that is contaminated with the flu virus, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose.

Those infected with the flu may pass it on to others from one day before they feel sick to a week after recovering from the illness. 

Possible complications

Young children, people over age 65, women who are pregnant, and people who have chronic health conditions are more likely to suffer complications from the flu. Possible complications may include: bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic health conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes.  

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year.  

If you have any questions regarding vaccines and getting up to date on your shots, talk to your doctor or contact the Oneida County Health Department Clinic at 315-798-5747.