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Protecting your Family Against Flu

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As a testament to last year’s occurrence of H1N1 flu pandemic, it is quite important to have enough protection against flu. Any strain of influenza or the flu virus must be kept in check as it is considered contagious and serious by the Centers for Disease Control or CDC.

Flu cannot be taken sitting down. Some cases can lead to hospitalization and even death. Although medical experts are not expecting a serious strain as the previous year, it remains to of great concern to protect and safeguard the family from any possibility of contagion during the flu season.

Vaccination, Prevention and Follow-Through

There are three stages of fighting flu. The first stage is vaccination, then prevention, and lastly, follow-through.

Vaccination

- As of late, there are flu vaccines developed to inhibit the virus from infecting individuals who get the shot. A yearly injection of the flu vaccine is highly advised by CDC as it is the most effective way of protecting yourself and your family against flu viruses.

- Although there are many different kinds of flu viruses, a flu vaccine can significantly protect you against three of the most common, which is obviously good enough.

- The flu vaccine developed for 2010-2011 is designed to protect against an influenza A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the 2009 H1N1 virus.

- Everyone from 6-month-old babies can be given flu shots as son as the 2010-2011 vaccine becomes available.

- Although infants below 6 month are vulnerable to serious flu illness, they are way to young to receive the vaccine. Instead, people who care for them should get vaccinated.

Protecting your Family Against Flu - At higher risk for contracting flu and those who need the vaccine badly are young children, pregnant women, elder people aged 65 and above, and those who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart or lung disease.

- Health care workers and those who live or care for people at high risk for flu illness should also have themselves vaccinated to keep the virus from spreading.

Prevention

- Cover your mouth and your nose when you cough or sneeze. Immediately throw the tissue into the trashcan after use.

- Wash your hands with soap and water as frequent as possible. If soap and water are inaccessible, you may reach for an alcohol-based hand rub.

- Germs spread easily by touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid such contacts as much as possible.

- Avoid close contact with sick people.

- If flu-like symptoms occur, CDC recommends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except if you are getting medical care or other necessities. When we say your fever is gone, it should be gone even without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. Getting out while you are still feverish makes it possible to infect other people.

Follow-Through

- Take antiviral drugs if you contract the flu. They will help treat your illness and reduce the discomfort of your symptoms.

- Be aware that antiviral drugs and antibiotics are entirely different things. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs are prescription medicines and cannot be bought over-the-counter.

- Antiviral drugs may help lessen the time you are sick as well as the severity of your symptoms. They may also help prevent the occurrence of flu complications.

- It is important that antiviral drugs are used as soon as flu-like symptoms occur, especially on those who are at high risk for severe flu complications – young children, pregnant women, elder people aged 65 and above, and those who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart or lung disease. It must also be administered within two days to patients who are very sick such as those who are hospitalized for flu illness.

- Flu-like symptoms to watch for especially during the flu season include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or stuffy nose, body aches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some people may also be infected with the flu virus even without a fever but with respiratory symptoms.
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