It is that time of year again when you need to decide, “should I get my flu shot?”
FLU 101 – The “FLU” is Influenza caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It is a contagious respiratory illness, spread mainly by tiny droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or touch a surface contaminated with the virus and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes.
The symptoms may vary from mild to severe and in some cases may lead to death. Flu season is actually quite long lasting from early October until April/May usually peaking in the USA in February.
If you travel internationally, be advised that while October to May is flu season in the northern hemisphere, in the temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere influenza activity typically occurs during April – September.
In the tropics, influenza activity occurs throughout the year.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) the flu vaccine is recommended for 6 months of age and older. The CDC also recommends that you receive the vaccine before the end of October as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body.
Special considerations for vaccination include: age, current & past health history, relevant allergies and pregnancy. Although not 100% effective, the vaccine is your best defense against the flu. If you are questioning whether to get the vaccine - or which one to get – speak with your doctor.
Symptoms of the flu usually appear one to four days after exposure, may last from one to two weeks and vary in severity.
The flu may come on suddenly and feel much worse than a cold, signs & symptoms include: aching muscles, fever over 100.4F (38*C), headache, sore throat, fatigue & weakness, nasal congestion and chills/sweats. Complications may include: Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Ear Infections, Asthma or Respiratory Flare-ups, and Heart Problems. These complications are usually seen in high risk populations like nursing home residents, patients with pre-disposed chronic illnesses, children under 5 and adults over 65, and pregnant women.
If you do contact the flu, treatment may include: over-the-counter pain relievers, antipyretic for reducing fever, fluids (soups, water or juices), and rest. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication as these drugs may shorten the symptoms and help prevent serious complications if taken soon after you notice symptoms. So, are you ready to roll up your sleeve? Prevention starts with you.
PREVENT THE SPREAD OF SEASONAL FLU
To help prevent the spread of influenza, advise your crew to take the following steps:
- Get a flu vaccination every year. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends vaccination by the end of October.
- If they are ill, ask them to practice self-Isolation until they are symptom-free for 24 hours.
- Minimize the number of crew directly exposed to an ill person on-board if possible.
- Wear gloves and an N95 mask when interacting with any ill person.
- Wash hands with warm soapy water before and after caring for any ill person (hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative).
- Dispose of tissues, gloves, masks, etc. as biohazard waste.
Don’t let influenza slow down your operation this season. Prevention is the key to a healthy crew, so pay close attention to personal hygiene, frequent hand washing and vaccinations to help stop the spread of influenza.
Learn more about preventing the spread of seasonal flu at www.medaire.com/flufacts.