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It’s flu season!

FPS staff report

It’s not too late to get a flu shot according to the Carroll County General Health District.

The county district is recommending all county residents ages 6 months and older get the flu vaccine.  The 2012-2013 flu season has begun and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports significant influenza viruses circulating across the state.

Nicholas Cascarelli, Carroll County health commissioner, said, “ Flu vaccinations are very safe and are the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy this flu season.  Most people who get the flu recover in one to two weeks, but flu can be deadly for those considered at-risk.”

The 2012-2013 seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza A 2009 H1N1 and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus).  It generally takes two weeks after a vaccination for individuals to develop protection from influenza.

It is important for the following groups to 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.   This group includes:  pregnant women; children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old; people age 50 or older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; and people who live with infants, because the infant cannot protect his or herself from the flu.

Flu shots are available at the Carroll County Health District, 301 Moody Ave., Carrollton, for a $25 fee.  Medicare Part B., Primetime, Medical Mutual, Medicaid, AultCare and Anthem can be billed.  To schedule a flu vaccine, call 330-627-4866, ext. 30 or visit www.carroll-lhd.org.

“Flu season got an early start in Ohio but it’s not too late to get your flu vaccination,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).  “We want to help Ohioans understand more about protection offered by the flu vaccine.  There are a lot of myths out there such as the misconception that the flu shot makes you sick.”

Disease experts outline several reasons why people may commonly link the influenza vaccination to their illness:

*It takes about two weeks to build up immunity so you could catch a flu virus in the meantime.

*You could get a virus that is not in the flu vaccine although the strains doctors are seeing seems to be a good match for the vaccine.  There are also many non-flu viruses circulating in Ohio this time of the year including some that cause colds or stomach illnesses.

*The vaccination doesn’t give every person 100 percent immunity to those flu strains.  Everyone’s body is different.  However, many times having a flu vaccination can reduce the severity of the flu and can also help curb the spread of flu from person to person.

The CDC gives the following information about the flu and how to take care of yourself.

How do I know if I have the flu? 

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:  fever (everyone with the flu will have a fever); cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; body aches; headache; chills; fatigue; and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

What should I do if I get sick? 

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.  Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or anti-viral drugs.  However, some people are more likely to get flu complications and should talk to a health care provider about whether they need to be examined. 

Anyone who has emergency warning signs should seek medical attention right away.  These signs include:  Fast breathing or trouble breathing; bluish skin color; not drinking enough fluids; not waking up or not interacting; being so irritable that a child does not want to be held; flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough; or fever with a rash.

In addition to the emergency signs, seek medical treatment for any infant who has any of these signs: Being unable to eat; has trouble breathing; has no tears when crying; or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal. 

Any adult exhibiting these signs should seek medical treatment:  Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; sudden dizziness; confusion; severe or persistent vomiting; or flu-like symptoms which improve then return with a fever and worse cough.

The ODH offers the following tips to help stay healthy this flu season:
*Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizer when you are unable to wash.

*Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs are often spread this way.

*If you get sick, stay home from work and keep sick children home from school or childcare.

*Get plenty of rest.  Sleep is shown to help your body fight off illness.

*Keep your body healthy:  eat a balanced diet including plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grain products; drink plenty of water and go easy on salt, sugar, alcohol and saturated fat; and exercise regularly because 30 or more minutes of physical activity most days of the week can help boost your immunity.

The ODH publishes weekly influenza activity summaries and other information on their website, www.flu.ohio.gov.

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It’s flu season!