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How To Keep Your Family Healthy During Flu Season

Holly Calig, BSN, RN, PHN
Fall is upon us! The following information should help you and your family get informed, be prepared, and stay healthy this flu season.

The following content was created for informational purposes only. Always seek medical advice from your healthcare provider.
 
As flu season approaches, I hear numerous reasons, as well as common misconceptions, of why individuals choose not to receive a flu shot. The following information should help you and your family get informed, be prepared, and stay healthy this flu season.
 
What is the flu?
Influenza, or commonly known as “the flu”, is a contagious illness caused by different influenza viruses. Influenza A and B viruses are the ones responsible for the epidemics we hear about each year.
 
How do I get the flu?
The flu spreads when someone infected with the disease sneezes, coughs, talks, or laughs, and the droplets land on a mouth, nose, or eyes of an uninfected person. Touching contaminated surfaces such as pencils, cups, keyboards, and doorknobs is another way the disease can be spread. The onset of the disease begins in 1-4 days from exposure.
 
What are symptoms of the disease?
Symptoms may be mild to severe and vary due to the age of the affected person. These can include chills, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, runny nose, headache, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. People are most contagious in the first 3-4 days of illness.
 
How does one differentiate a cold from influenza?
While both a cold and influenza are illnesses that produce respiratory symptoms, the flu has more severe symptoms and can result in serious health-related complications, such as pneumonia and other bacterial infections. (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/symptoms.htm)
 
What can I do to stay healthy during this season?
First, get a flu shot before the flu strikes. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to protect you from the flu. Take a common-sense approach, such as good hand washing with soap and water, avoiding contact with ill people, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and cleaning surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Washing hands before meals keeps germs out of mucus membranes.
 
Excuse # 1: Getting a flu shot gives me the flu.
  • There is no live flu virus in a flu shot. It cannot cause the flu!
Excuse #2: Flu shots don’t work anyway.
  • Flu vaccines reduce flu illness (in 2016-2017, the vaccine prevented approximately 5.3 million influenza illnesses), visits to your healthcare provider (2.6 million influenza-related visits), missed days from work and school, and flu-related complications that lead to hospitalization (85,000).
Excuse #3: It’s just the flu. That’s no “biggy.”
  • Flu vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of pediatric associated deaths by 65% among healthy children. (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0403-flu-vaccine.html)
  • While anyone can get the flu, it is important to be thoughtful of those in our lives who are at a higher risk of flu-related complications. These include people who are over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and children under the age of 5.
  • The flu can also make chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease worse, causing more serious complications.
For those of you who still are not convinced, thank everyone around you who does believe in a flu shot, because they are protecting you!
 
 
Take the time to navigate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu.
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Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.