Health nurse says it’s not too late to get a flu shot for protection
With influenza season soon to spike, Marion County health nurse Diedre Serene is reminding county residents to get a flu shot.
The health department still has shots available, and Serene recommends them starting at age 6 months. Flu shots take 10 to 14 days to take full effect.
Another precaution is to cough into the elbow rather than into a hand, she said. Many people were taught to cough into their hand or a tissue to prevent the spread of disease, but it’s been shown that people who cough into their hand then touch surfaces where the virus can spread to others, and tissues can also spread disease.
“If you use a tissue, make sure you throw it away, not touch it, and wash your hands with soap and water,” Serene said.
Serene said she’s not yet sure which strain of influenza is making the rounds this year. Health care providers are encouraged, but not required, to report cases of influenza-like illness.
Through November, the number of reported cases jumped, then dipped downward slightly, Serene said. That is typical any year.
December through February are when large increases in flu cases usually happen, Serene said.
“That is partly because they travel, they get together, and they are in more of a confined area,” she said.
Serene also said flu can be very dangerous for children, and those younger than 5 years, or who have certain long-term health problems such as asthma, nervous system disorders, and diabetes are at a higher risk of complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear or sinus infections.
A recent study showed a child’s risk of being admitted to pediatric intensive care is reduced by 74% if they have had a flu shot.
Influenza can make children sick enough to need emergency care.
Bluish lips or face, ribs pulling in when breathing, fast breathing, trouble breathing, chest or severe muscle pain, lack of alertness, fever above 104 degrees, dehydration, cough that improves but then worsens, and seizures are signs that emergency care is needed.
Serene said although children who are ill with symptoms that might indicate influenza should not go to school, schools seldom close because of influenza. The reason is that students go to social events and restaurants, being among other people.