We asked the Cleburne County Health Department to give us some tips regarding the flu this winter season. Administrator Hazel Thompson provided us some helpful information regarding this year’s flu, prevention, and vaccination.
What can you tell us about the flu season that’s coming up this year?
All we know for certain is that, just like every year, the flu will cause many people to get sick and miss school and work. Flu can be a serious illness for otherwise healthy people, but flu can be particularly serious for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness or lung condition.
It is especially important for pregnant women to get vaccinated, because newborns can’t be vaccinated until they are six months old. If mom gets vaccinated, some immunity is passed to the unborn baby that will help protect it during flu season.
Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to protect you from the flu. You get better protection if you get a shot every year. And when you get a flu shot, you help protect your family and others around you who might have serious health problems.
You are less likely to get the flu if the people around you get the shot. This is why it is important for everyone in your family to get vaccinated.
Getting sick with the flu can cause you to miss school, work, and extra-curricular activities like ballgames and family holiday events.
The flu is often very serious for older adults and people who have other health problems. By getting your flu shot and having your children vaccinated you help protect older adults and people with other health problems such as cancer, heart disease, asthma, or diabetes.
The flu vaccine can reduce hospitalizations by as much as 60 percent and deaths by 80 percent.
Pneumonia is a serious complication of influenza infections and is one of the top 10 causes of death in all adults.
Getting a flu shot is the best protection for older adults against the flu and flu-related complications.
Is there anything different about the flu shot this year?
Flu viruses change over time and new viruses develop so each year the flu vaccine is developed with the strains or types that are most likely to be going around during flu season.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older. There are very few people who should not get a flu shot. The vaccine is safe and effective for almost everyone.
Page 2 of 4 - This year’s vaccines provide protection against 3 or 4 of the kinds of flu we expect to see in the state this year: two strains of type “A” flu and one or two strains of type “B” flu.
Are you planning to offer the flu clinics again this year?
The clinics in the schools are already underway across the state. Parents should watch for information from their child’s school about when the vaccine will be given there. Parents must sign the form giving permission for their child to get a flu shot or the flu mist.
School Clinic information can also be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov. Click on the seasonal flu banner at the top of the page. There is a link to the school flu clinic schedule on the left of the page under seasonal flu.
The Mass Flu Clinics are open to everyone. Check with your local health unit to see when the clinic will be in your community. The schedule can also be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov under seasonal flu.
Flu vaccine is provided at no cost during the mass flu clinics, but we ask that you bring your health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or ARKids First cards if you have them, so that we can bill your insurance company for the costs of providing the shot.
Last year, Arkansas had a higher rate of pediatric deaths from the flu than anywhere else in the country. These deaths are preventable. Last year 5 children died from the flu -- 2 six year olds, 1 fifteen year old and 2 children under two. Three of these children were otherwise healthy – having no high risk medical condition. Four were not vaccinated.
Healthy children, in addition to children with high-risk conditions, can die from the flu. Appropriate vaccinations can prevent these unnecessary and tragic deaths.
Infection rates are higher among children than adults. It is important for parents to keep their sick children at home so they do not spread the flu to others.
Influenza vaccine should be provided to all persons aged 6 months and older who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting it to others.
Some children younger than nine may need a second dose of vaccine for full protection. Check with your local health unit or healthcare provider to see if your child needs a second dose.
Page 3 of 4 - Pregnant women need to get their flu shot to protect themselves and their babies.
Pregnant women who get the flu are at risk of developing serious health problems, including being hospitalized or dying.
Flu vaccine is a safe way to protect you and your unborn baby from serious illness and complications of flu. When pregnant women get a flu shot, both mothers and their babies get the flu less often.
During the flu season, vaccinated women are less likely to have their baby too early – a major cause of infant illness and death.
Flu vaccination will protect your baby from the flu after your baby is born.
Babies cannot get the flu shot until they are 6 months old.
Flu shots are safe for pregnant women and their unborn babies. The shot has been recommended for pregnant women for many years.
The flu vaccine can be given at any time during pregnancy.
The flu shot is safe for women who plan to breastfeed and the vaccine can be given to mothers who are breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about flu vaccination during pregnancy.
Health Care workers
The flu can spread quickly in hospitals and nursing homes. It is important for everyone working in healthcare settings to get a flu shot to protect themselves and their families and their patients.
Studies have shown that when a lot of health care workers get vaccinated, vulnerable patients are protected.
Health care workers should get a flu vaccine ever year because flu viruses change yearly and a flu vaccine from a previous season may not protect against current flu viruses.
You can’t get the flu from a flu shot—that’s a myth. People sometimes have a mild redness and soreness where the injection was given, and some people may feel achy after getting a flu shot, but those symptoms generally go away within 24 hours, and are nothing like the real flu.
Things You May Not Know About the Flu Virus :
It can persist In water up to 4 days(72°F), >30 days at 32°F and indefinitely in frozen materialon non-hard, non‐porous surfaces for 24‐48 hours, onn cloth paper and tissue for 8‐12 hours, on hands for 5 minutes. It is spread through direct or indirect contact, respiratory (large‐particle droplet) transmission. It also requires close proximity and does not remain suspended in the air and travels only a short distance. Data supporting airborne transmission is limited
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The incubation period or how long after you are exposed to the flu will you get sick averages about 2 days (Range 1-4 days).
Viral shedding is the term used to refer to shedding from a single cell, shedding from one part of the body into another part of the body, and shedding from bodies into the environment where the viruses may infect other bodies. It lasts 5 to 10 days. Adults start to shed the day before onset of symptoms Children might start to shed several days before illness onset and can be infectious > 10 days after onset of symptoms
Myalgia (muscle pain)
Rhinitis (runny nose)
Diarrhea & Vomiting (more so in children)
Adequate fluid intake
Antipyretics and analgesics (fever and pain reducers)
If someone is sick enough to seek care they may benefit from an antiviral medicine called Tamiflu. Anyone with high risk conditions who has a flu-like illness should see their doctor and consider tamiflu
Other antibiotics, which target bacteria not viruses, are not effective against the flu
How Can I Keep From Getting the Flu?
Yearly vaccination is most important!
Remember the 3 C’s
Clean – wash your hands often
Cover – cover your cough and sneeze
Contain – stay home if you are sick