Fall is marked by changing leaves, shorter days, pumpkin spice everything, and, of course, the flu. This is the time of year when we begin to see flu shot signs popping up at every doctor’s office and pharmacy. If you’ve ever had the flu before, you get it. Experiencing the ravaging aching, sore throat, fever, headache, and cough that typically accompanies the illness is often enough to make one swear they will do anything possible to never have it again.
That’s where we come in. At Lane Regional Medical Center and our FAST Lane urgent care facility, we see many cases of the flu each year in young, old, and everyone in between. Not only is it our mission to provide vaccinations and help you beat the flu quickly, it is also our goal to keep our friends, neighbors, and community free of the flu and its complications year after year. With that in mind, here are a couple of things you should know in order to avoid catching or passing on the flu in 2016.
Understand Your Flu Risk
Unfortunately, anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but there are some who are at a particularly high risk of developing serious, flu-related complications if they get sick. People who are most at risk include:
- Individuals over the age of 65
- Individuals with a chronic illness (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
- Women who are pregnant
- Young children
Understand How the Flu Spreads
A key component to avoiding the flu is understanding how the illness is transmitted from one person to the next and taking the proper steps to protect yourself and others. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or possibly their nose.
Those who have the flu may be able to pass it on to someone else before they even realize they are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Why should you get a flu shot?
The flu shot is important for everyone. Anyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated by the end of October if at all possible, but getting a flu shot later in the year is also OK. However, it is particularly important for the high-risk groups mentioned above to be fully vaccinated every year. While the flu vaccine is not always foolproof, it can reduce the risk of catching the flu by 50-60 percent. In turn, the risk of dangerous, flu-related complications among particularly vulnerable groups is also reduced.
Protect yourself and others from developing the flu by getting your own vaccination, staying away from those you know are sick, and preventing the spread of germs through handwashing and covering coughs or sneezes. If you want to defend yourself against the flu or do begin to feel ill, visit the FAST Lane after hours clinic for a flu shot or a test to either confirm or rule out a flu diagnosis.
FAST Lane After Hours Urgent Care
19900 Old Scenic Hwy.
Zachary, LA 70791