The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Read the following flu fast facts below, courtesy of the CDC:
While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.
The 2011-2012 vaccine will protect against an influenza A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as the 2011-2012 vaccines are available (available now in Health Services).
Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.
Flu Safety & Prevention Each year in the U.S., an average of more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications The CDC urges you to take the following actions, in addition to getting your yearly flu shot, to protect yourself and others from getting the flu. Take actions to protect yourself:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
While sick, limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
Take antiviral drugs if recommended.
Most people ill with the flu will recover without complications. However, for those at increased risk of complications, antiviral drugs may be recommended.
Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, or inhaled powder) that fight the flu by keeping viruses from reproducing in your body.
The flu may be caused by different viruses, which can affect whether an antiviral drug will work for you. Your healthcare provider will determine whether to prescribe an antiviral.
For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started within the first two days of symptoms.
Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter and are different from antibiotics.
Over-the-counter products may offer relief of your symptoms.
Recognize flu-like symptoms:
Diagnosing the Flu
It is difficult to distinguish the flu from other infections on the basis of symptoms alone. A doctor's exam may be needed to tell whether you have developed the flu or a complication of the flu. There are tests that can determine if you have the flu as long you are tested within the first 2 or 3 days of illness.
If you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about your illness, especially if you are at high risk for complications of the flu, you should consult a healthcare provider. Those at high risk for complications include people 50 years or older, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and young children.
When to seek emergency care for children
When to seek emergency care for adults
Flu Safety Shopping List
Flu vaccine is available now in Health Services, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Cost is $25 payable by check, cash, or billed to student account.
For more information and to get your flu shot, contact Health Services at 610-902-8531.