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