The Flu Season has been exceptionally harsh this year but as it lingers on you can take steps to help protect yourself. Start by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already, and try to avoid close contact with sick people. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and when that’s not an option use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs. It’s not too late to educate yourself and your clients on how to avoid the flu.
Encourage those around you who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu to get vaccinated and to seek medical treatment at the onset of flu-like symptoms. Those groups at higher risk include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 and older.
Seniors have a greater risk of complications from the flu because the human immune system weakens with age. To help combat the threat there are two vaccines specifically designed for people 65 and older. The “high dose vaccine” which contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot, and the “adjuvanted flu vaccine”, made with MF59 adjuvant, which creates a stronger immune response to vaccination. The high dose and the adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose shots. Those side effects can include headache, muscle ache, malaise, and pain & redness at the injection site. Seniors should ask their physician which type of vaccine is right for them. They should also stay up to date with the pneumococcal vaccination to protect against pneumonia. Penumonia is an example of a serious influenza complication that can cause death.
Another major concern is safeguarding younger children who cannot be vaccinated. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months old, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu. See Advice for Caregivers of Young Children for more information. Everyone else who is around the baby should be vaccinated also.
Additionally, some children 6 months through 8 years of age will require two doses of flu vaccine for adequate protection. Any child who is being vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of the vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart.
Common Flu Symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Vomiting and Diarrhea