April, 2, 2019
For More Information, Contact
- Robert Parker, public information officer, Western Region, Virginia Department of Health, 540-580-2960
(WISE, Va.) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory on March 28, 2019 to notify clinicians that influenza activity remains high in the United States, with an increasing proportion of activity due to influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
“It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. Anyone over 6 months old should get one. Children over 6 months, adults over 65, pregnant women, and those who have weak immune systems or a chronic medical condition really should not wait any longer,” said Sue Cantrell, M.D., health director of LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts. “For these groups, flu can cause severe illness and even death.” Healthcare workers should get their flu vaccine to help protect their patients – especially those patients who are at the highest risk for complications from the flu. The best way to protect against the flu is to get a flu vaccine. When more people are vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.
Additional steps people can take to protect themselves and others from the flu are to:
- Wash hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue;
- Stay home when sick, CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and
- Keep surfaces that may have flu germs on them cleaned and disinfected.
Some of the serious effects of influenza are bacterial pneumonias. Viral infections like flu can make people more exposed to secondary bacterial infections and the health district recommends people 65 years of age and over get vaccinated against a common type of pneumonia.
Flu signs and symptoms can include feeling feverish or having a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your flu illness. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against the flu virus in your body. Antiviral drugs are not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine. Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense to treat the flu if you get sick. When treatment is started within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by about one day. They may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections in children, and pneumonia and hospitalizations in adults.
For more information on seasonal flu, please visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia or www.cdc.gov/flu. To learn more about receiving a free flu vaccine from your local health department, please call 276-328-8000 (Wise/Norton); 276-346-2014 (Lee) and 276-386-1312 (Scott).