What You Need to Know About the Flu (Influenza)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 5% to 20% of the U.S. population will get the flu this season, and 310,000 individuals will be hospitalized for flu-related illnesses.

 

When is flu season?

The timing is unpredictable and varies by year. Some flu viruses circulate during the summer and influenza activity often begins increasing in October. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated soon after the vaccine becomes available; if possible, in early fall.

 

How does the flu spread?

The flu virus enters the body through mucous membranes in the eye, nose, or mouth. It can become airborne when a person coughs or sneezes, making it easy to infect those nearby. The virus can also be spread by touching common objects that allow the virus to survive on their surfaces, then touching your mouth or face.

 

What are the common signs and symptoms?

Flu symptoms often include the following.

·       Fever ·       Headache ·       Body ache ·       Runny or

stuffy nose

·       Fatigue ·       Chills ·       Cough

 

The flu may also cause more severe conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Most people who get the flu usually feel much better within one or two weeks, but some may develop life-threatening complications.

 

How can individuals protect themselves? 

  • Getting the vaccine each year is still the best protection against the flu. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body within about two weeks, providing protection against the viruses contained in the vaccine.
  • Any individual who appears to have a flu-like illness should be advised to stay home and avoid face-to-face contact with others, unless seeking medical treatment.
  • Practice good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, and cleaning surfaces that are likely to have frequent hand contact.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth to stop the spread of germs.

 

For more information and helpful tips, please visit flu.gov or cdc.gov/flu. Most insurance companies cover preventive vaccines at 100%. Pharmacies and insurers may also be able to provide worksite vaccination clinics.

 


John E. Aoki, M.D., CHCQM, FABQAURP

Chief Medical Officer

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