Here we are in mid-December and influenza season is in full swing. In fact, while flu activity was low during October 2017, activity has been increasing since the start of November
, with more cases of influenza A viruses, specifically influenza A(H3N2). In the United States, flu season typically ranges from late fall through early spring and while many who get the flu recover without sequelae, serious illness and death can occur, especially in high risk patients, including:
So, how can you stay healthy and keep those around you healthy this flu season?
- older adults
- young children
- pregnant women
- those with certain chronic medical conditions, such as:
- chronic lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- heart disease
- neurologic conditions.
The best way to avoid getting and/or spreading the flu is to get vaccinated! The CDC
recommends that everyone six months and older get an injectable flu vaccine this season. And here’s why…
Educating Patients: Be ready to answer some of these frequently asked questions
How does flu spread?
- While there are certain high-risk groups, anyone can get very sick from the flu, including otherwise healthy people.
- As a health care provider, you can get sick from coworkers or patients who have the flu.
- If you get the flu, but don’t feel sick, you can still spread the virus.
- By getting vaccinated and protecting yourself, you are also protecting your family and friends, and your patients.
Flu viruses spread through droplets when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. The droplets can reach the mouths or noses, or be inhaled into the lungs of others, up to six feet away. A person can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching his or her own nose or mouth.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The flu usually comes on suddenly with a wide range of symptoms:
When is a person with flu contagious?
- Fever and chills, although not everyone with flu develops a fever
- Cough and sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children).
Most healthy adults are contagious starting one day before symptoms appear and up to five to seven days after feeling sick. So, it is possible to spread the virus before someone feels ill and even if no symptoms are present.
What if someone has an egg allergy?
Often, a question arises regarding ability to get the flu vaccine if a person has an egg allergy. According to the CDC, “People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine and no longer have to be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. People who have severe egg allergies should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.”
Our Role as Health Care Providers
As health care providers, it is our responsibility to keep our knowledge up-to-date and educate patients, so they can make informed decisions about vaccination. How do you stay informed? And how do you approach the conversation on vaccination
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, December 11). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
Flannery, B., Reynolds, S., Blanton, L., SAntibanez, T., O'Halloran, A., Lu, P.-J., . . . Fry, A. (2017). Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Pediatric Deaths: 2010–2014. Pediatrics, 1-9.
HealthDay. (2017, December 8). Influenza Picking Up in U.S., Predominantly A(H3N2). Retrieved from Lippincott NursingCenter.com: https://www.nursingcenter.com/healthdayarticle?Article_id=729211