Not too early to prep for flu

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, October 4, 2006

By Staff
Our view
September came and went in a rush and now October is well on its way bringing in cooler temperatures and falling leaves. While the beginning of autumn is a favorite of many, it is also the beginning of the less anticipated flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider October or November as the best time to get vaccinated, but cite that getting vaccinated in December or even later can still be beneficial since most influenza activity occurs in January or later in most years. Though it varies, flu season can last as late as May.
The CDC also states that they do not expect any shortages of the flu vaccine this year as seen in years past due to increased production.
It is still recommended that those people who are at an increased risk of having complications from the virus get vaccinated first, such as people 65 years and older and adults and children with chronic heart or lung conditions such as asthma.
While the flu vaccine is the first line of defense, a little common sense can help decrease the spread of the highly contagious virus as well.
The CDC says a person can spread the flu starting one day before he or she even feels sick, and continue to pass the flu virus to others for several days after symptoms start.
For this reason, play it safe this year in your home, workplace or school. Clean hands are a good first line of defense. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
Covering your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing may prevent those around you from getting sick as well as keeping your distance from them.
And always remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
Hopefully, with more vaccines being made available this year and the use of a few good healthy habits are area can keep the flu bug at bay this season.
Not sure about the difference between a cold and the flu? The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases offers these guidelines:
Fever – Fever is rare in colds. For flu, fever is characteristic, high (102-104¡F), and lasts 3-4 days.
Headache – Headache is rare in colds. For flu, headaches are prominent.
General aches &pains – For colds, general aches are slight. For flu, aches and pains are typical and can be severe.
Fatigue, weakness – Fatigue is quite mild in colds. For flu, fatigue can last up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme exhaustion – For colds, exhaustion is not a normal symptom. For flu, exhaustion is early and prominent.
Stuffy nose – For colds, stuffy nose is common; in flu, a stuffy nose is sometimes present.
Sneezing – For colds, sneezing is usual; for flu, sneezing is sometimes present.
Sore throat – A sore throat is common in colds. For flu, sore throat is sometimes present.
Chest discomfort, cough – For colds, chest discomfort is mild to moderate. For flu, chest discomfort is common and can become severe.

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