The Sharon Health Department’s town-wide flu clinics for all residents age 5 and over will be held on Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM and Thursday, October 18, 2012 (family clinic) from 4:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the Community Center, and October 23, 2012 from 9:30 AM – 12 noon at
Influenza (flu) season which usually occurs from December to March and peaking in February will inevitably be here again in the next couple of months. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) …”winter is the time for flu, but the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time flu activity peaks in January or later.”
Flu is a highly contagious infection of the body's respiratory system. The viruses that cause the flu live in the nose and throat, and are sprayed into the air when the infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. People nearby can then inhale the virus and flu symptoms usually start one to three days afterwards. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever. (www.cdc.gov/flu)
Seasonal flu vaccine formulation can change from year to year, but even if it is the same as the prior year, vaccination is necessary as immunity declines. The three strains for 2012-2013 season are: A/California (H1N1), A/Victoria (H3N2) and B/Texas.
The Health Department administers the vaccine in the arm intramuscular (IM) or for children < 18 years of age the nasal flu mist is available. Because the flu mist is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses (sometimes called LAIV for Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine), the child should not have any underlying health problems such as asthma or diseases which cause immunosuppression.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months receive a flu immunization.
“There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician.
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)
- People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.” (www.cdc.gov/flu)
The flu has the potential to be quite serious and some people develop complications such as pneumonia. The flu causes 200,000 hospital admissions and 36,000 deaths each year in the U.S., mostly among the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical problems. Flu can also be a concern for children who receive aspirin therapy. Aspirin and flu (or chickenpox) can lead to Reye's Syndrome, a rare but serious illness in children and teenagers.
Getting the vaccination is one step towards preventing influenza. Proper, frequent handwashing; alcohol based hand gels; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your arm when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoiding close contact with people who are sick or staying home when you are sick — are all healthy habits which should be practiced. Bedrest, lots of fluids, over-the-counter pain and fever relievers and prescription anti-virals can make you feel better. “Flu: What You Can Do, Caring for People at Home” is available at the Department of Public Health (DPH) website – www.mass.gov/dph/flu for further information.