Tennova commemorates National Influenza Vaccination Week with tips for avoiding the flu
Flu season is officially here and health experts are concerned it could be a particularly miserable fall and winter. Flu is one of the nation’s leading causes of death, with roughly 24,000 people a year dying from flu and its complications. During National Influenza Vaccination Week, December 3–9, Tennova Healthcare is advising the community to get the flu shot, not the flu.
Doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms across the U.S. are seeing a growing number of flu-symptomatic patients. Tennova Healthcare is also prepared for patients admitted for treatment of flu-related complications. The latest figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show moderate flu activity in Tennessee.
“While health officials fear this will be an unusually bad year for flu, it’s still too soon to say,” said Charles D. Rutledge, M.D., a family medicine physician with Tennova Primary Care and Occupational Health – East Towne. “The timing of the flu is unpredictable, and it can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February, but can continue as late as May.”
The good news: It’s not too late to get the influenza vaccination. Even if the flu season peaks soon, it will still be around for months.
“Vaccination is the simplest step you can take to protect yourself,” Dr. Rutledge said. “More often than not, the patients I see in my office who have the flu didn’t take this action to protect themselves or their family members.”
Here are three things you can do to be safe this flu season:
- Get the flu shot for yourself and everyone in your family. It’s available at your doctor’s office as well as many walk-in clinics and urgent care centers in the area. The CDC recommends everyone older than six months, except people with severe egg allergies, get immunized.
- Get Treatment. If you do get the flu, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable to catching the flu and experiencing complications. It’s important to treat high-risk individuals promptly to avoid hospitalization. Treatment with antiviral medication works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness. These drugs can also lessen serious flu complications.
- Practice Prevention. Stay away from sick people and wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and resist touching your eyes, mouth and nose. Avoid close contact with people who have the flu or are experiencing flulike symptoms. If you’re sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading it to others.
“Though this year’s flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, it’s the best way to protect against flu infection,” Dr. Rutledge said.
For more information or to find a doctor, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Tennova.com.