Fall is a time for cooler temperatures, crisp leaves, pumpkin spice everything – and flu season.
The 2017-2018 flu season was an active one, with flu and pneumonia hitting Louisiana hard. Statistics from the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health show 1,600 deaths from flu illnesses, including five pediatric deaths, and more than 15,000 hospitalizations.
Know the Signs
Flu shares many symptoms with a cold but is far more serious. Flu usually comes on suddenly with some or all of these symptoms:
· Fever or feeling feverish/chills
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Muscle or body aches
· Fatigue (tiredness)
· Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
The Flu Vaccine
Get your flu shot before the season gets going, preferably by the end of October. It protects against three or four different flu viruses depending on the vaccine you receive. The vaccine is your best chance at reducing flu and related illnesses, doctor visits, hospitalizations and time missed from work and school.
All people ages 6 months and older are recommended to receive a flu shot, especially people at high risk for serious flu-related complications and their close contacts. Those at high risk include infants, pregnant women, children, adults ages 65 and older, and adults with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
The most common side effects are soreness, redness and/or swelling at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea and muscle aches. Side effects are generally mild and clear up on their own within days.
The flu vaccine is available from your primary care physician, many pharmacies, parish health units, school health clinics, rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers, or find a vaccination site at vaccinefinder.org.
Prevent the Spread
Besides the flu vaccine, there are several easy steps you can take to help prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses:
· DON’T COUGH OR SNEEZE INTO YOUR HANDS.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after you use it. Alternately, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
· Stay away as much as you can from people who are sick.
· If you get the flu, stay home from work or school. If you are sick, do not go near other people so that you don't make them sick too.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
· Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often spread this way.For more flu information, visit Fight the Flu LA or the CDC’s flu page.