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How do I prevent the flu this year?

How do I prevent the flu this year?

By Suzette Jennings, PA-C, RD, Methodist Convenient Care

What is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious viral infection spread by respiratory droplets transferred from an infected person’s cough, sneeze or saliva to an uninfected person. Sometimes the flu virus is spread before the person displays symptoms.

What are symptoms of the flu?
Flu symptoms are similar to the common cold but tend to be more severe and come on more suddenly. Symptoms may include fever/chills, body aches, runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

Why should I be worried about getting the flu?
Occasionally, the flu virus can cause complications including ear and sinus infections and pneumonia. Symptoms can worsen in people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma, leading to hospitalization and even death. The flu tends to be more dangerous in young children, pregnant women, people over age 65 and individuals with chronic diseases or poorly functioning immune systems.

How do I prevent the flu?
Get vaccinated before October 31 when flu season officially begins. Vaccinations continue to be helpful throughout flu season, usually until March 31. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone six months and older be vaccinated annually. Children under six months of age are too young to receive the vaccine so caregivers should be vaccinated. Avoid contact with people who are sick, wash hands frequently and remain home if you are feeling sick.

Will the flu vaccine give me the flu?
No, it takes two weeks for your body to develop the protective antibodies to fight off the flu. Occasionally, vaccinated people contract the flu or another virus before the vaccine is effective, but the most common side effect is redness and soreness at injection site.

What should I do if I think I have the flu?
Avoid contact with those who are unvaccinated and those susceptible to severe complications. Most symptoms can be managed at home. Rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter medications for fever and body aches. If symptoms are severe, see your physician or health care provider.

Where can I get a flu vaccination?
Flu vaccines can be administered through your physician’s office, convenient care facilities, hospitals, pharmacies and some work sites and college campuses.

About Suzette Jennings, PA-C, RD
Suzette Jennings is a board certified Physician Assistant and Registered Dietitian who provides same day acute care at Methodist Convenient Care located at 110 Second Street in Henderson. Walk-ins are welcome. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 270-826-4650 for more information.