Iredell News

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Keep Your Holidays Flu-Free

12/05/2016

It’s the time of year when our schedules are packed with shopping and celebrations, but a bout with the flu could bring your holiday season to a halt. Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu activity typically peaks between December and February, and can last well into spring. During National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 4-10), Iredell Health System is joining the CDC’s effort to remind you that it’s not too late to get vaccinated and protect yourself from the flu.

Flu symptoms typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and fatigue. The virus can force you to spend several days in bed and can easily ruin your holiday plans. The flu can also be deadly, killing thousands to tens of thousands of people each year. Health officials blame the flu for two deaths in North Carolina between the beginning of this flu season and the end of November.

It’s important to be vigilant about flu prevention as you celebrate the holidays with family and friends. The season can create opportunities for the flu to spread.

“Gathering with groups of people for the holidays can increase your risk of encountering someone who is ill,” said Pam Gill, Director of Infection Control at Iredell Health System. “The flu is contagious before the person knows they are sick. An infected individual can transmit the flu beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming ill.”

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself against the flu is to get the vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age or older. After you get the shot, it takes about two weeks for the body’s immune system to respond and for you to be protected, so it’s important to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. The CDC is not recommending the nasal spray flu vaccine this year because of questions about its effectiveness.

The flu vaccine is just one part of a prevention strategy to keep you and your family healthy.

“Practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water and cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze,” said Gill. “These may seem like small steps but they can make a big difference when it comes to preventing illness.”

Anti-viral medications can sometimes lessen the severity of flu symptoms if you do get sick, but only if you seek treatment right away. If you get the flu, resist the urge to go to work or to be around groups of people. Taking time to recover is important for your health and to keep the flu from spreading to others.

To make an appointment with a healthcare provider to get vaccinated, visit IredellHealth.org.

Categories: General News