Flu Season is Around the Corner
That’s right folks, it’s time for that flu conversation again. Just as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization has declared an end to the Swine Flu (H1N1) Pandemic, it is time for flu shots again. How quick was that?
Flu vaccine should be widely available this year right now. The experts including the CDC have emphasized getting flu shots as soon as it is available which should be now in most communities. This year the vaccine includes two predicted seasonal viruses plus the dreaded H1N1 all in the single injection. The nasal spray vaccine is an option for only those who are healthy individuals between 2-49 years of age and not pregnant. The recommendations are anyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available. The peak season for influenza is cold weather months with the worst month typically January. However the last couple years, flu season has been anything but typical. This speaks loudly to the unpredictability of influenza outbreaks.
Prevention is the key, so pay attention to these warnings now for your self, your family and co-workers. Get the vaccination while you can. If you do become ill, see your health care provider as soon as possible. You will want to confirm that you have seasonal flu and determine whether you may be a candidate for medication. There still are two anti-viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza that can be helpful in treating symptoms if it is started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. As people can be contagious from one day before they have symptoms till 5-7 days after onset, staying at home will help avoid spreading the illness to others in your community. Simple rest and staying well hydrated are still important for your comfort and recovery. Remember the basics of covering your cough and regular hand washing. These simple measures go a long way in preventing spread of the disease. The large majority of people suffer with only a mild illness which still has potential for a miserable week out of school or work. Nonetheless, severe cases cause complications resulting in hospitalizations and an average of 36,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Get vaccinated as soon as you can and practice good health habits.