October 5, 2017
For More Information, Contact
- Lorrie Andrew-Spear, VDH-Northern Region Public Information Officer – 703-530-2627
(Winchester, Va.) — Shorter days, leaves changing color and sweater weather are all signs that fall is here! Can flu season be far behind? While we can’t stop the cooler weather, the Lord Fairfax Health District does suggest a way to deal with flu season: get a flu shot! Getting a flu shot every year is the single best way to prevent the flu.
“It’s important to get the flu shot every year,” says Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene. “Flu is implicated in 10,000 to 40,000 deaths each year in the United States, with the elderly and chronically ill at the highest risk. Flu viruses are constantly changing, so each year’s flu vaccine is designed to keep up with the changing viruses. Also, the body’s immune response from vaccination can decline over time, so an annual flu shot is essential to protect your health and the health of those around you.”
Generally, everyone aged 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. It’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. Babies under 6 months of age are too young to get vaccinated, so it’s vital to immunize those who come in contact with the very young.
Flu season typically runs from the fall through the winter or early spring. Influenza activity in Virginia is presently at low levels, so now is a great time to get your flu shot. Immunity to the influenza virus develops about two weeks after vaccination. During the fall and winter holiday seasons influenza can spread at family gatherings, special events and at crowded places – such as shopping malls.
Vaccinations are Readily Available
Flu shots are available now at most pharmacies and clinics in drug stores, grocery stores and even big box retailers. Health department clinics in the Lord Fairfax Health District (Shenandoah, Page, Warren, Clarke and Frederick counties and Winchester city) are offering walk-in flu shots Mondays and Fridays, (except holidays) from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. You can also use the “Flu Vaccine Finder” at www.flu.gov to find providers in your ZIP code.
In addition to getting your flu shot, here are some additional steps to prevent flu and other illnesses:
- Stay home when you are sick. Keep your distance to protect others from getting sick, too. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands. If you’re well, try to avoid contact with those who are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue and throw it away immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze snugly into the crook of your elbow to prevent germs from spreading through the air. The commonly seen practice of holding a fist in front of a cough does no good, and actually leaves germs on the person’s hand to spread by touching.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Soap and water are best, but if they are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs on surfaces can be picked up and spread when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. It helps to clean and disinfect surfaces at home, school and work – especially if someone is sick.
- Support your general health. Reduce stress, get enough sleep, exercise, eat nutritious foods, and drink plenty of fluids. A healthy body is better able to resist illness.
Additional information on flu is available from VDH at www.misstheflu.com.
The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.