Ready or not, influenza season is coming

Believe it or not, influenza season is right around the corner. With this in mind, the healthcare community and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encourage people to get vaccinated for the virus.

Recognizing influenza...
There is a common misconception that when you are sick to your stomach, you have ‘the flu.’ Although nausea can be a sign, influenza is actually a contagious respiratory virus that develops more quickly than a cold.
Common symptoms:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)

Stop the spread of influenza...
Getting an influenza vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the virus. To help stop the spread of influenza and other diseases, the CDC suggests also taking the following actions.

  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of germs. If you need to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or into your upper sleeve or elbow, not in your hands.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
  • If you do come down with influenza, remember that there are antiviral medications that may make your illness more mild, and may help you feel better faster. The medicine needs to be started within 48 hours of when your symptoms first begin, so be sure to act quickly!

The vaccine…
Flu vaccines cannot cause the flu. The viruses found in vaccines are either killed or weakened. Vaccines are safe, and serious problems from the flu vaccine are very rare. The most common side effect that is reported is soreness at the injection site, which only lasts for a few days.

Even with the vaccine, there is still a chance that you could get sick with influenza. There are several reasons for why this can happen.

It takes about two weeks for the influenza vaccine to take effect. During that time, or shortly before you received the vaccine, you may have been exposed to an influenza virus. If you were exposed, this could result in you becoming ill with influenza before the vaccine begins to protect you. Also, the vaccination does not protect you from every possible strain of virus that is out there. You can become sick if you are exposed to an influenza virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine.

The influenza virus changes constantly from year to year, and also can change within the course of one flu season. Before the influenza season arrives each year, experts pick which strains of the virus to include in the next year’s vaccine. Since this is done months in advance, it is not possible to predict which influenza strain will be most active during the upcoming season. It’s possible, then, that the produced vaccine won’t completely protect against all strains of the influenza virus that are circulating during the influenza season.

Unfortunately, there are some cases where people who were vaccinated become infected with an influenza virus that the vaccine was designed to protect against. The protection provided by influenza vaccinations can vary widely, due to each person’s health, age and other factors. In general, the vaccine works best among young, healthy adults and older children.

The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the most severe on record, according to the CDC. Because of the impact influenza can have on the young, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children six months and older be vaccinated.

Influenza vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best one currently available to prevent influenza. However, if a vaccinated person does come down with influenza, it is likely that he or she will have a less severe case of influenza, thanks to the vaccination.

How Mile Bluff is helping...
Mile Bluff Medical Center exists to provide care at its best; and quality and safety initiatives are always top-of-mind. One step the organization has taken to help decrease the risk of spreading influenza, is requiring vaccinations for all employees and volunteers.

By being vaccinated, staff members are taking a proactive step in helping to significantly reduce the risk of spreading illness. It is a benefit for the employees, their family members, their co-workers, and for the individuals who entrust their care to Mile Bluff.

As a healthcare organization, it is crucial to take every available precaution to shield patients and residents from harm. Mandatory influenza vaccination for employees is just another step in the continuing effort to provide care at its best.

Mile Bluff remains committed to helping everyone stay protected from influenza. If you have any further questions about influenza, would like to schedule an appointment to see a healthcare provider, or would like to receive the influenza vaccine, view our locations and call to make an appointment.