Prevention is Key
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near soap and water, use an alcohol-based (60-95%) hand cleaner (such as Purell).
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. (And if you are ill, please stay home as much as possible to avoid making others ill!)
- Try not to touch your eyes or nose. Wash hands before and after touching your face.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, but not with your hands! Cough into your sleeve, shoulder or elbow. Even a bare arm is better than your hands.
- If you use a tissue, throw the tissue away immediately after you use it and wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- GET A FLU SHOT WHEN AVAILABLE.
- When influenza is at its peak levels in your community, make extra efforts to keep yourself healthy by eating healthy food, getting plenty of rest each night, avoiding excess sugar and alcohol, and avoiding tobacco products (yes, this is another motivation to quit tobacco!)
Who should get the vaccine?
Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.
Pregnancy X Household Contacts / Caregivers for Children Under 6 Months of Age X Healthcare & Emergency Medical Personnel X Children Younger Than 6 Months People Aged 6 Months to 24 Years Old X People Aged 25 to 64 With Chronic Health Conditions * X Adults 65 Years of Age & Older X Residents of Nursing Homes & Other Chronic-Care Facilities X
* Chronic Health Conditions include chronic lung (including asthma), heart, kidney, liver or blood disorders, metabolic disorders (including diabetes), and impaired immune systems (including those caused by medications or HIV/AIDS).
Common flu symptoms
- Fever over 100°F (38°C)
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Muscle and/or joint aches
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea (possible but less common)
Influenza or “the flu” is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. Unlike other respiratory illnesses, the flu is associated with a striking sense of unwellness accompanied by a loss of appetite and weakness lasting several days.
Worrisome flu symptoms (seek medical care as soon as possible):
- Fever over 102°F (39°C) that does not come down below 100°F (38°C) with fever reducing medicine
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck – unable to touch your chin to your chest
- Severe cough not helped by cough medicine
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Vomiting that prevents keeping down liquids
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- People with high risk medical or chronic health conditions should seek immediate medical care if they have ANY symptoms of the flu.
In addition to the symptoms above, for children who are ill with influenza (seek medical care as soon as possible for any of the following):
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
- Not drinking enough fluids;
- Severe or persistent vomiting;
- Not waking up or not interacting;
- So irritable that he or she does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough;
- Fever with a rash.
- No tears when crying or significant reduction in wet diapers, signaling dehydration
Home care if you get the flu:
- Stay at home, avoiding work, school, and social gatherings until the fever has been gone for 24 hours (without needing fever-reducing medicine to keep the temperature down).
- Get plenty of rest.
- Avoid alcohol and beverages with caffeine (coffee, tea, cola).
- Drink at least 2 quarts each day of liquids such as non-diet 7-UP, Sprite, ginger ale, broth, tea with sugar (yes, soda pop is OK with a cold or flu).
- For runny nose and stuffy nose, try an over the counter decongestant.
- For cough, try an over the counter cough syrup.
- To reduce fever, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed on the bottle. Avoid aspirin. (Keep in mind, however, that many of the over the counter medications contain acetaminophen, and one must be careful not to exceed a normal dosage. If your decongestant or “flu” medicine has acetaminophen in it, do not take additional doses.)
- For vomiting, don’t eat or drink anything until you have not vomited for 4 hours, then sip on liquids (see above – avoid plain water as it can make vomiting worse) for 24 hours. If no further vomiting, begin eating mild foods like crackers, dry toast, mashed potatoes, rice, or apple sauce for 24 hours. Then resume your regular diet slowly.
- If you have to go out, wear a surgical mask or try to stay at least six feet from other people.
- If your symptoms get worse, seek medical care. Consider phoning your medical provider ahead so that you won’t expose others to your illness. They can help by giving you a mask to wear or by having you wait in a separate area to avoid making others sick.
Items to have on hand for medical, health and emergency supplies in case you want to stay home due to illness or avoid exposure to illness in the public:
- Prescription medications: Try to always keep at least 2 week supply on hand. Rotate what you have stored so that the reserve you have on hand is always fresh.
- Soap & water, and alcohol-based (60-95%) hand sanitizers (Keep a small container with you or in your car.)
- Anti-diarrheal and fever reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Cough syrup and decongestant (If you are unsure what medication to take, consult your pharmacist or care provider.)
- Water and fruit juices (the flu virus causes dehydration)
- Pedialyte or other rehydration drinks for children
- Popsicles or Jello
- Crackers and peanut butter
- Easily digested foods like clear broth, chicken noodle soup, apple sauce
- Non-perishable foods like cereal, cereal bars, dried fruits etc.
- Tissues, toilet paper and such
If you have further questions, please refer to http://www.flu.oregon.gov or http://pandemicflu.gov/index.html.
Contact your health care provider or North Central Public Health District at (541) 506-2600 for seasonal influenza vaccine availability. You can also call 1-800-SAFENET for information.
Top Ten reasons why you should get the flu shot
You care about the people around you.
You are not a selfish person. You would hate to be the one who sickened half your friends and all your family, or gave the influenza to someone who might die of it.
You’re no wimp
The shot only hurts for a minute, and you feel tough! (Besides, it’s better than being sick for a week or two). Besides, if you are even just a little bit wimpy about shots, you can probably get the nasal spray instead of the shot!
You don’t have time to be sick
No matter what you do, who wants to lose a week or two of their life being sick in bed? No Way!!!
Uh oh, if you get influenza, you are contagious for about a day before you even know you have the flu.
You don’t want to give it to others, you are always good about staying home when sick, but what if you’re around everyone, being social and the next day you discover you have influenza? Oh no! Better get that shot, and you won’t have to worry about that one.
You love being alive
The flu shot hardly ever kills anyone, but every year, thousands of people die of influenza. Thousands!! You don’t want that to happen to you or to the people you care about.
Those pesky flu bugs keep changing
Strains of the flu virus change every year, and new vaccines are produced to counter them as soon as they are identified. In addition, the vaccine loses its potency after a year. So, the shot you had last year will not be effective against this year’s virus.
It just makes sense: There is no simpler thing you can do to protect your health.
You take your vitamins, you try to eat healthy, you try to get your exercise, but there’s all those people sneezing and coughing during influenza season… Better get that shot!
You want to protect those infants who are too young to be immunized, and the elderly people whose immune response no longer protects them as it once did.
Think of it as “herd immunity”. You are a social creature, and by keeping yourself from getting ill, you may also just save the life of someone much more vulnerable than you.
It takes about two weeks to build immunity following the immunization.
You never know when you might be exposed to influenza; anytime between October and May, you just might encounter those germs. Better just get that shot ASAP!
The world needs you, your family and friends need you.
Your health is important to a lot of people. Whatever it is that you do, you can do it better if you are feeling well. Take care of yourself. You are too important to be out of circulation!!