CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With the arrival of the new year comes exciting opportunities to implement positive changes as you look to the months ahead. Don’t let a case of the flu put a damper on those plans or slow your start to 2016.
Flu season typically runs from October to March, but a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control indicates flu season is getting a late start this year.
With cases of influenza expected to increase in coming weeks, community members are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves.
“The best way to protect yourself is to receive a flu shot,” said Ericka Kalp, director of epidemiology and infection prevention at Summit Health. “This is especially important for people with compromised immune systems who are at a higher risk of developing severe complications from the flu.”
Flu vaccines are still available locally and can be administered to most individuals six months and older. It takes about two weeks from vaccination to be protected.
Summit Health employees already have taken precautions to keep community members safe.
At the start of flu season, all Summit Health employees were required to be immunized for influenza or wear a surgical mask while at Summit Health facilities during the active influenza season.
“This is just one more important step we take to protect the health and safety of our patients as we care for them,” explained Kalp.
The flu and common cold can have similar symptoms – fever, body aches, fatigue and cough – but generally are more intense with the flu.
In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, proper hand washing is a great way to reduce your risk of the flu and stop the spread of germs, according to Kalp. Tips for good hand washing include:
- Use warm water and soap.
- Wash both sides of your hands (don’t forget your wrists, between your fingers and, especially, under your nails.)
- Wash your hands for at least 15 seconds (or, until you’ve repeated the “Happy Birthday” song twice.)
- Dry your hands on a paper towel and use the towel to turn the water off. Then, use the towel to open the door as you leave the bathroom.
Those who do get the flu should rest, stay hydrated and avoid contact with the public until at least 24 hours after their fever has broken without the aid of fever-reducing medicine.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and cough
To find flu shot locations near you, call your doctor’s office or visit: www.flu.gov.