CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – This Halloween, there will be more things than ghosts and ghouls lurking behind veils of mist on vacant streets to give you the heebie-jeebies.
Flu season is approaching, which means flu germs will soon lurk on doorknobs, shopping-cart handles, restaurant menus and other surfaces.
If that isn’t enough to send a shiver down your spine, consider this:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates flu has caused hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations since 2010. Flu can cause days missed from work or school and in rare, severe cases, death.
While it’s still too early to know if the flu shot will be a good match this year or to know the severity of this flu season, WellSpan Summit Health’s Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention, Ruth Freshman, said a the flu shot can be a real life saver.
“Vaccination with an influenza vaccine can mean the difference between life and death,” she said. “Millions of children get sick annually due to influenza. Thousands are hospitalized for influenza. And, 100 pediatric deaths, annually, are attributed to influenza.”
She added that most of those children have no underlying illnesses; they simply were not vaccinated and were exposed to the flu.
Flu season typically runs from October to March. While the flu shot may not always be a perfect match for the strains active during flu season, Freshman said people who get the shot and still get sick will experience a shorter illness and less severe symptoms.
In addition to getting a flu shot, proper handwashing can help limit the spread of germs.
“Thorough handwashing takes about 20 seconds from start to finish and includes wetting the hands, lathering with soap, scrubbing, rinsing, and drying well,” said Freshman. “To help children remember how long to wash their hands, have them sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice.”
Flu vaccines, which can be given to most people six months and older, are available at WellSpan Family Medicine and WellSpan Internal Medicine locations. It takes about two weeks from vaccination to be protected.
The flu and common cold can have similar symptoms – fever, body aches, fatigue and cough – but generally, symptoms of flu are more intense.
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
The flu shot is available at WellSpan Family Medicine and WellSpan Internal Medicine locations, as well as WellSpan Urgent Care and WellSpan FastCare. For other locations providing flu shots near you, call your doctor’s office or visit: www.flu.gov.
WellSpan Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.
As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, WellSpan Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, urgent care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.