Stay Healthy this Influenza Season


Filed under Health & Wellness

About one in five Americans become ill with influenza each year. The best way to help prevent the spread of this serious virus is through yearly vaccination. Unfortunately, many are not getting vaccinated, which may put them, their family and their community at risk for this severe respiratory illness.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) urges anyone who wishes to reduce their risk of influenza to be vaccinated each year. Getting vaccinated helps protect the entire community from influenza, also known as “the flu,” which can cause severe symptoms or lead to trips to the doctor, visits to the hospital and sometimes death.

Influenza vaccine is available in many places within the community, such as doctors’ offices, the local public health department, clinics at grocery stores or pharmacies, and often at work. Prescription antiviral medications also help in preventing and controlling the spread of influenza, and to help treat symptoms.

“Anyone who wishes to protect themselves and others within the community from influenza should be vaccinated, including school-aged children,” said William Schaffner, MD, NFID Vice President. “We all need to do our part to help protect our communities from influenza and its complications. Now is the time to plan vaccination for you and your family members.”

Influenza vaccine is especially important for anyone 50 years of age and older, children 6 months up to 5 years of age, people with a chronic health condition, such as asthma or diabetes, and pregnant women. Anyone in close contact with these groups or with children younger than 6 months of age should also get an influenza vaccination. This includes parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, health care workers and even babysitters or caregivers.

Influenza season can begin in the fall and last into the spring. Vaccination should continue throughout the season. Since the influenza season usually peaks around February, getting vaccinated in December, January or beyond is beneficial.

About Influenza

Influenza is a serious and sometimes deadly infection. About 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 must go to the hospital because of influenza in the U.S. each year.

Influenza symptoms can include high fever, dry cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and muscle aches. It also can cause extreme tiredness that may last days or weeks. Children, especially infants and toddlers, may have additional symptoms that adults usually don’t have, including ear aches, nausea and vomiting.

Anyone can get the influenza virus. It is easily spread from person to person, mostly by coughing and sneezing. People, including young children, can spread the virus to others before symptoms appear and for many days after they begin.

People who live with or care for someone at higher risk for influenza should consider an annual influenza vaccination. Influenza vaccine is safe and effective and is available for people 6 months of age and older. The more Americans who get vaccinated, the more families and communities are better protected from the spread of this dangerous disease.

For the 2007-2008 influenza season, the CDC recommends use of two antiviral medications, oseltamivir and zanamivir, for treatment and prevention of influenza. If taken within 12-48 hours of first symptoms, antiviral medications can reduce the severity and duration of influenza. These medications can also help prevent influenza when someone has been exposed to the virus. Antiviral treatments can also be prescribed to anyone with egg allergies who cannot receive influenza vaccine.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

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