Adena Health Focus October 17, 2017

Parents: What You Need to Know About This Flu Season

It’s that time of year again…flu season. The flu makes you feel miserable but did you know the flu can also be dangerous, especially for children.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that since 2010, 26,000 children younger than the age of five have been hospitalized each year in the United States because of the flu. You have the power to protect your children, your family and yourself this flu season by getting vaccinated and making sure everyone in your family six months and older gets their vaccine too.

Simple Ways to Keep the Flu Away

You can avoid the flu this season by taking one simple step- get a flu shot.

The flu, also called seasonal influenza, is caused by one of several strains of influenza virus that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu makes life miserable for about a week or two and can even be deadly for some. In past seasons, about 85% of flu-associated pediatric deaths occurred in children who had not gotten a flu vaccine that season.

“The flu shot is the best protection we have against this very significant virus that can be deadly”, says Primary Care Provider Dr. Elizabeth Cordial with Adena Family Medicine – Circleville. “Children are especially susceptible to the flu due to their immune systems still developing. Even in its worse years, the flu shot is still 20% effective, so why risk it.”

You can also protect yourself and others against the flu by doing simple things like washing your hands for at least 20 seconds before eating and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

“While washing your hands does help in preventing the spread of the flu, those who work in high populated areas such as schools, hospitals and supermarkets are all highly vulnerable to getting the flu,” added Dr. Cordial. “Since the flu is an airborne virus that is spread by contact with droplets sneezed or coughed from an infected person, no amount of hand washing can prevent you from breathing in the virus.”

A flu vaccine is most important for children six months to 59 months and adults ages 50 and older

What’s True About the Flu

Unfortunately, some people think that getting a flu vaccine is too much trouble, costs too much, or they are sure that a flu shot will make them sick or make them more likely to catch the flu.

Don't believe the rumors you hear. The flu shot cannot give you even a mild case of influenza. The vaccine does not contain a form of the flu virus that can give you the flu. The injected form of the vaccine is made from pieces of dead flu virus cells. After receiving the vaccine, some people have mild flu-like symptoms. This is not the same thing as having the flu. When you get the flu vaccine, your body reacts and makes antibodies that provide immunity against the virus.

“It is completely normal for some people to feel a little crummy a day or two after having the shot,” Cordial said. “This is actually good news, because it means the shot is working. What is happening is your body is creating immunoglobulins, which protect your body against diseases and your immune system will remember the flu virus and be prepared to attack it if it does enter your body in another way.”

Cold vs. Flu

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.

“The viruses are spread the same way and with both, fever, coughing, runny nose and sore throat are all common,” explained Cordial. “However, with the flu people tend to have more body aches, fatigue and overall just feel worse than one would who has the common cold.”  

It is important to note that neither the flu nor the common cold can be treated with an antibiotic. “It is always a good idea for those who are experiencing these symptoms to still contact their primary care provider because if caught early enough the symptoms can be mild through supportive care such as taking Tylenol and drinking plenty of fluids.”

When, Where and How Can I Get Vaccinated?

Adena Health System offers many flu shot clinics, making it easy for you and your family to get vaccinated. Most of the time, your insurance company will cover the cost of a yearly flu shot. If you wish to schedule a visit for a flu vaccination, please contact your doctor’s office, or call 740-779-FIND to get established with a doctor at a time and location that is convenient for you.

At this time, Adena is offering walk-in flu clinics at the following locations:

No appointment is needed.

Visit www.adena.org/locations for office hours and locations.