CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – As winter approaches, so does the influenza season. Keeping your family healthy can be a challenge. Influenza season typically spans from October to March. By understanding how influenza is transmitted, you can take steps to prevent getting sick.
Influenza, more commonly called the “flu”, is a respiratory illness that causes fever, sore throat, chills, and cough in children and adults. Because the flu is spread through droplets of respiratory secretions, individuals can easily contract and transmit the virus. In the winter months, persons typically spend more time indoors and in close proximity to others, which can allow influenza virus to transmit person to person with ease.
The best way to protect you and your family from the flu is to receive influenza vaccine annually. Children six months of age and older, as well as adults, should receive flu vaccine, preferably before flu is circulating within the community.
Infection prevention strategies are important to keep you and your family healthy. The following steps are important to prevent illness:
- Practice hand hygiene (use hand sanitizer or soap and water)
- Avoid sharing cups, utensils, and food with others.
- Stay away from others who are sick
- Disinfect surfaces that sick children have touched
If anyone in your family has symptoms of the flu, make sure they receive plenty of fluids and rest. Try to keep them away from other people as much as possible. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are severe.
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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the nasal spray flu vaccine did not work as effectively as expected for the past few years; therefore, the CDC in conjunction with The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the injectable influenza vaccine this year.
Flu vaccines are available locally and are usually covered by health insurance. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity.