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    Spread Fun, Not Flu

    Kathryn Ekstrom, MD Pediatrics & Internal Medicine, Deaconess Clinic Morganfield 09/11/2018
    I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to be sick with the flu.  A week or more of serious body aches, coughing, fever, etc. is not how I want to spend my time.  After all, we’re heading in to fall and winter…times of seasonal fun, holiday gatherings and more. But that means we’re also getting close to flu season, so be prepared by getting your flu vaccine before the season starts! 
     
    The flu vaccine is recommended yearly for everyone 6 months of age and older.  Because it takes approximately 2 weeks after getting the vaccine for your body to build up the needed antibodies that fight the flu virus, it is important to get the vaccine before the flu starts spreading, which can happen as early as October.
     
    The flu vaccine decreases flu illnesses, prevents flu-related hospitalizations, and significantly decreases the risk of dying from the flu—particularly in children.
     
    Last Flu Season (2017-2018)
    The 2017-2018 flu season was quite long, rising in November with high activity from January through March.  There were 180 pediatric deaths reported nationally, approximately 80% of which were in children who had not received the flu vaccination that season. Hospitalization rates were also high.
     
    Important Flu Facts
    • The flu virus spreads by droplets when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or even talks.  The virus can also be found on objects such as door handles, pens, hand rails, etc. These are reasons the flu is so contagious!
    • Flu symptoms typically start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body via the mouth, nose, or eyes. 
    • Most adults with the flu are contagious one day before their symptoms begin, and up to 5-7 days after becoming ill. Young children may be able to spread the flu longer than a week. This means that someone with the flu can infect others before they even realize they are sick!   This is also why it is important to get your flu shot before the virus starts spreading—you need to have antibodies built up to effectively fight the virus and prevent more severe symptoms.
    • Deaconess Clinic will be offering our annual flu shot clinics again this fall. The schedule includes many locations, days and times. 
     
    Are You “High Risk”?
    People who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu include:
    -Children younger than 5 years old
    -Adults 65 years of age or older
    -Pregnant women
    -Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
    -People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or other chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, or weakened immune systems due to medications (such as steroids) or treatments for diseases (such as cancer).
     
    Protect Yourself and Others
    • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as these are the entry points for the virus.
    • Clean surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.
    • Most importantly, if you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home! 
     
    Don’t forget—a yearly flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu illness. 
     
    Resources
    www.cdc.gov/flu
     
     
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