Even though most of us are still enjoying the warm weather, the flu season is actually right around the corner. The 2011-12 season began late and was relatively mild compared to previous years. However, influenza can be unpredictable. The flu season can start as early as October and typically peaks in January/February.
Unlike the common cold, symptoms of influenza include fever, often with chills, headache, fatigue, and body aches in addition to cough and upper respiratory symptoms. The incubation period is 1-4 days. Vomiting is rarely seen in influenza.
There are two main ways to prevent infection with influenza:
1. Get a yearly flu vaccine! The flu vaccine protects against 3 strains of influenza that are predicted to be most common each year. This year’s vaccine includes protection against the H1N1 strain that emerged in 2009.
All children 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. Vaccination of high risk groups such as children less than 5 years of age, asthmatics or those with chronic disease is especially important. Household contacts or caregivers of these high risk groups should also be vaccinated as should pregnant women and new mothers.
2. Stop the spread of germs! Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your nose and mouth. In addition, avoid close contact with sick individuals and stay home if you are ill with the flu.
Stay healthy! Contact the office to schedule your flu vaccine today!