Consumer Health Blog

Who’s Likely to Get the Flu? How Can YOU avoid it?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

At a time when Ebola has caused heightened awareness of infectious diseases and their spread, we prepare for the flu season with even more concern than usual.

Who’s at risk the most?

  • Children under the age of five whose immune systems are not fully developed. Each year, approximately 20,000 youngsters in this age group are hospitalized for flu-like symptoms.
  • Children with chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes
  • Seniors over 65 years of age whose immune systems have weakened; 90% of flu-related deaths are in this age group. You are 60% less likely to visit your health care provider if you get the flu vaccination.

Who should get vaccinated?

  • Children six month of age and older. Nasal spray is recommended for those from two to eight years old where it is available.
  • Parents and caregivers of children under five or with chronic health conditions
  • Seniors. Regular and high-strength doses are available to seniors. Discuss your options with your physician. Medicare covers one flu vaccination/year.

What can you do to stop the spread of the flu?

  • Get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine or spray becomes available in your area—the sooner, the better. It takes two weeks for it to take effect.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you sneeze or cough since flu is spread by air-borne droplets. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap frequently.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces/objects.

Which medications will help you avoid the flu?

  • Flu Vaccination, whether injectable or nasal mist
  • Anti-viral drugs can prevent you from getting sick if you have been exposed to flu or relieve symptoms if you already have them. Tamiflu, Relenza, Symmetrel, and Flumadine are 70-90% effective especially if you take them within two days of contact with a sick person. They are FDA-approved for anyone over one year of age.
  • Do NOT try to relieve the symptoms of a child or teenager with aspirin. It can cause Reye’s Syndrome, a rare but serious disease. Choose Tylenol or ibupropin (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) instead.

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.” ______________________________________________________________________________ Abington Surgical Center works consistently and conscientiously to prevent the spread of germs. We are proud of our very low infection rate. Information provided is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Visit Flu.gov for more details.