With colder weather and shorter days also come sniffling and coughing. So, with flu season quickly approaching the Highland County Health Department recommends getting vaccinated and continuing to practice healthy habits.
According to Karen Vanzant, director of nursing at the health department, “The flu shot is the best way” to prevent the spread of the illness.
“(You’re) not only protecting yourself, but you’re protecting those around you,” Vanzant said.
She said that precaution is especially true for anyone who spends time around newborns since they cannot get flu shots until they are least 6 months old. Until then, they have no protection against the flu.
The very old, Vanzant added, are also more susceptible to the flu.
She also said that the flu vaccine this year is “very similar to last year’s” and that it will be “more in line with what we’re going to be seeing this year.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 113 million doses of this season’s flu vaccine have been distributed so far.
Along with vaccination, Vanzant said that handwashing is a major way to prevent the spread of the flu and other diseases. Other ways, she added, are covering your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze and staying home from work if you get sick.
To treat the flu, Vanzant said, people should drink “plenty of fluids” and continue a healthy diet.
She recommended taking antiviral medications a few days before or within the first hours of contracting the flu; however, she added, most people “usually don’t realize” they have the flu until symptoms have already begun.
The CDC defines antiviral medications as prescriptions that “fight against the flu in your body.”
According to the CDC, antiviral medications are a treatment option that work best within the first two days of getting sick. They can “lesson symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days … (and) can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia,” the CDC said.
So far this year, Vanzant said there have been “no reported cases (of the flu) in Highland County.”
“We are just starting to get into the flu season,” she said, adding that the “highest cases of the flu” usually come between November and February.
Vanzant said people can prepare for peak flu season by not only getting vaccinated, but by also “maintaining your own health” through nutritious meals, exercise, and adequate sleep.
She said that in addition to the flu vaccine, there are new recommendations for people ages 65 and older to get a pneumonia vaccine. The vaccine is also recommended for people over the age of 50 with certain underlying conditions.
For more information on the flu and vaccinations, contact the health department at 937-393-1941. The department is located at 1487 N. High St., Suite 400, in Hillsboro.
Additional information about the flu can also be found at www.cdc.gov/flu.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.