Seasonal Flu Cases Starting To Increase; Get a Flu Shot
When the weather gets colder, the incidence of influenza like illnesses starts to increase. And that’s the case this year. Influenza activity is much higher this year than it was last year at this time. While the absenteeism in the schools and Head Starts is still relatively low, five cases of lab confirmed flu have been reported in our five county area said Kate Lange, BSN, PHS Disease Control Specialist.
Individuals have an important role in protecting themselves and their families. Everyone should take these everyday steps to protect your health and lessen the spread of seasonal flu.
• Get an influenza vaccination. Every person six months and older should get an annual flu shot. It’s not too late to get the vaccine; flu season usually peaks in January or February but can occur as late as May.
• Stay informed. Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available.
• 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 cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• Remain at home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100° F [37.8°C), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
• Follow public health advice regarding social distancing measures.
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines, but you should check with your insurance company. Under the Affordable Care Act, many insurers are required to cover certain preventive services, like the flu vaccine, at no cost to you. If you do not have insurance or have a high deductible and cannot afford a flu shot call your local health department which can assist you to getting protection.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH thinks that the flu season will hit hard this year, because of its early start and the appearance of strains that are generally associated with more severe flu symptoms. The flu vaccine is the best protection, especially this year because it covers about 90 percent of the strains in circulation, he said. The flu vaccine is safe and will protect you for one flu season. And it is especially important to get the vaccine if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from the flu. This group includes children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
For more information about the flu and where to get immunized contact Kate Lange, BSN at 402-641-0536 or call the Public Health Solutions at 402-826-3880. Calls are answered 24/7.