(The following article was put together by our new pharmacy intern, Katherine Michaud, from the University of St. Joseph)
With flu season right around the corner it is time to start thinking of how you can protect yourself and your family from the flu this year.
What is Influenza?
Influenza, also known as the flu or seasonal flu, is a respiratory virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. It is spread by person to person contact when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing infected droplets into the air.
Symptoms of the flu: fever, chills, cough, muscle or body aches, feeling very tired, headaches, and runny or stuffy nose. Children who get the flu may also have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Protecting Yourself against the Flu:
The best way to protect yourself and family from the flu this season is to get your flu shot. The CDC recommends that all people age 6 months and older receive their flu shot each year.
Follow these other steps listed below to help protect yourself and family from the flu:
1. Avoid close contact with sick individuals.
2. Stay home if you are sick.
3. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow (not your hands!)
4. Wash your hands with soap and warm water often during the day … Alcohol sanitizers can be used also.
5. Prevent germs from spreading by avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
6. Clean surfaces with disinfectant at home and work often.
7. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, food, and fluids!
When should you get Your Flu Shot?
The flu season normally peaks around January or February. However, it is hard to determine when exactly the flu season will start and end and it takes up to 2 weeks for the vaccine to work so it is important to get your flu shot as soon as it becomes available.
How Long Does the Vaccine Last?
Getting the flu shot every flu season is the best way to protect you throughout each flu season. Studies have shown that protection against the flu for most healthy individuals lasts throughout the flu season.
Where can you get Your Flu Shot?
If you are under 18 years old you can get your flu shot from your doctor’s office or a walk in clinic.
If you are age 18 years or older you can still get your flu shot at the doctor’s office or walk in clinic but you can also visit the pharmacy for your flu shot.
Here at Granby Pharmacy we will carry the inactive flu shot this flu season, which is given by injection into the muscle of your arm. Flu shots are administered by one of our trained pharmacists. No appointment or prescription needed, just come during our normal business hours (please call ahead on weekends) and ask to receive your flu shot!
Complications of the Flu:
Sometimes the flu can cause more serious problems like; pneumonia, sinus or ear infections, and dehydration (lack of fluids) due to vomiting or diarrhea.
It is extremely important for you to get vaccinated if you fall into any of these categories that put you at higher risk for serious flu related complications:
1. Children ages 6 – 59 months
2. All people 50 years and older
3. If you have certain medical problems (asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, low immune system due to medications or a disease (ex. HIV/AIDs or cancer), brain disorders, blood disorders, COPD or other lung diseases).
4. If you are pregnant or expect to be pregnant during flu season
5. Children 6 months – 18 years who are on daily aspirin therapy
6. If you live in a nursing home or long term care facility
7. If you are a care taker for any person who is considered high risk
8. American Indian/ Alaska Natives
9. If you are morbidly obese (BMI >40)
Be on the look-out for an update when the flu shots arrive in the pharmacy!
Source: CDC [Internet]. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal Influenza (Flu); 7 August 2013 [cited 8 Aug 2013]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm