These actions will protect against 2009 H1N1 too!
Flu is a serious contagious disease. Each year in the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die from seasonal flu complications.
This flu season is of concern because there is a new and very different influenza virus causing illness called 2009 H1N1. St. Lucie Medical Center urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from both 2009 H1N1 flu and seasonal flu:
Action #1 – Take time to get a flu vaccine.
• The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza.
• While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three seasonal viruses that research suggests will be most common.
• Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
• Seasonal flu vaccine also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from making them sick.
• Be aware that a seasonal vaccine will not protect you against 2009 H1N1.
• People at greatest risk for 2009 H1N1 infection include children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease. Ask your doctor if you should get a 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
Action #2 – Take everyday preventive actions.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands. Turn your head and cough into the crook of your elbow if you do not have a tissue.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
• While you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds, and other measures to keep your distance from others to lessen the spread of flu.
Action #3 – Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them.
• If you get seasonal or 2009 H1N1 flu, antiviral drugs can treat the flu. However, they work best if started within the first two days of symptoms.
• Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
• Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. They are not sold over-the-counter and are different from antibiotics.
• The priority use for antiviral drugs this season is to treat people who are very sick (hospitalized) or people who are sick with flu-like symptoms and are at increased risk of serious flu complications – pregnant women, young children, people 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions. (Most people have been able to recover at home from 2009 H1N1 without needing medical care and the same is true of seasonal flu.)
• Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, including 2009 H1N1, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
For health information and physician referral: Consult-A-Nurse® 1-866-4HCA-DOCS (1-866-442-2362) Flu shots are widely available throughout the area. They may be obtained by appointment through your personal physician, at area pharmacies and other community sites, and through your local County Health Department – St. Lucie County: 772-873-4924.
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