“Take 3” actions to fight the flu

National Influenza Vaccination Week, December 6 – 12, 2015, was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination. Here are a few tips to help you remain healthy.

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone six months of age and older should be immunized.
  • 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 such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease; and
  • people 65 years and older.
  • Health care workers, people who live with or care for high risk people and people who care for children younger than six months of age should also be sure to get immunized.
  • It is never too late to get immunized. Ask your health care provider if you can get the flu vaccine today.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  Flu virus spreads this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with flu virus.

Visit your health care provider.

  • Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. Some people may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. If you have these symptoms, visit your health care provider.
  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can lessen the symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, such as pneumonia. For people with high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness.
  • Flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick, however, starting them later can still be helpful.
  • Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that are not available over-the-counter. If your health care provider prescribes an antiviral drug, follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the drug.

Visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/flu  to find out the latest information about this year’s flu and to learn how to care for someone who has the flu.

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