Fight the flu in three easy steps
November 1, 2013
If you’ve ever had the flu, the flashbacks of fever, headache and body aches are probably enough to make you shudder.
Each year, 5-20 percent of the U.S. population will get influenza. On average, 200,000 Americans will be hospitalized due to complications of this deadly, contagious virus.
To prevent the spread of the flu, Backus and Windham hospitals are urging community members to join in “Take 3 Actions” – a nationwide public health initiative developed by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Take 3 Actions” offers three simple steps to stopping the spread of the flu:
1. Take the time to get a flu vaccine
“Getting an annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu,” said Peter Shea, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Backus and Windham hospitals. “Everyone six months and older should get the flu shot. The flu season generally peaks in February and March, but can begin as early as October and last through May. Getting immunized provides protection throughout the entire season.”
The influenza vaccine protects against the strains of the flu that research predicts will be most common during the year. It is especially important that individuals who are at high-risk to suffer complications from the disease get immunized. High-risk individuals include:
- Young children. Since children six months and younger cannot be vaccinated, their caregivers should be vaccinated to decrease risk to infant.
- Pregnant women.
- Those over 65 years of age.
- Those with chronic health conditions including asthma, diabetes, and heart and lung disease.
2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
“Practicing frequent and appropriate hand hygiene is the most effective way to stop the spread of germs,” said Heidi Joseph, RN, Infection Control, Nurse Epidemiologist at Windham Hospital. “ If you have a fever and other flu-like symptoms, it is best to stay home until you have not had a fever for 24 hours and maintain hydration.”
Stop the spread of germs with these simple tips:
- If you do get the flu, limit your contact with other people.
- Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away after one use.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap, often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose – germs spread this way.
- Disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.
3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
“It’s important that people seek medical care if they experience flu-like symptoms,” said Kristie Tapper, APRN at the Colchester Backus Health Center. “Antiviral drugs, which can be prescribed by an individual’s health care provider, can treat the flu and generally prevent more serious complications from the flu.”
If you experience the following symptoms this flu season, contact your health care provider:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Some people also experience vomiting and diarrhea
The following Backus Health Centers are offering the flu shot to the public on a walk-in basis:
Colchester Backus Health Center
163 Broadway, Colchester
Montville Backus Health Center
80 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville
Ledyard Backus Health Center
743 Colonel Ledyard Highway, Ledyard
For more information about these Backus Health Centers, including phone numbers and hours, visit backushospital.org/clinics-outpatient-care.
Patients of the Backus Health Centers in Norwich and North Stonington may call their primary care providers to schedule an appointment for a flu shot.
For more information about this year’s flu, visit cdc.gov/flu.