Flu season has arrived and the Lincoln County Public Health Department wants to remind all citizens it’s time to get their influenza vaccines.
It is recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Medicine, and most American physicians that children 6 months old and older, teens, pregnant women and adults get their yearly flu shot.
This recommendation is made to help protect individuals, families and communities from the highly contagious influenza virus.
Influenza is a respiratory illness that is passed from person to person through airborne droplets that can infect a person through the nose, mouth and eyes. Common signs and symptoms of influenza infection include fever, cough, sore throat, headaches and fatigue.
It is important to know that influenza is a virus that does not respond to antibiotics. As a result there is no cure for influenza infection; all one can do is “wait it out and hope for the best.”
Influenza can be deadly even to the healthiest of individuals, and is different from your average runny nose cold. influenza usually has severe symptoms that can cause illness for months and can lead to possible hospitalization. It’s a unique virus because it mutates so quickly and changes from year to year, which is why the Public Health Department must re-vaccinate every year. This is also why flu shots, which also change every year, range in their effectiveness.
Even though the vaccine’s effectiveness can vary, it is still beneficial to get it. Think of it this way: just because seatbelts don’t work 100 percent of the time, it doesn’t mean we stop using them. Because we are always one step behind the influenza virus, it is critically important to do everything we can to be prepared for it.
It is especially important for healthy adults to be vaccinated to protect the sicker, more vulnerable people around them who may not be able to get vaccinated such as the immunocompromised, the terminally ill and infants. influenza does not discriminate and can infect anyone.
Measures you and your family can take to prevent influenza illness include vaccination; washing your hands often, before eating, after using the bathroom, and always after being in public; wearing a face mask in public if you are ill; using disinfecting wipes on grocery cart handles; keeping your home clean and regularly using disinfecting cleaners on door knobs, surfaces and floors; regularly disinfect your work surfaces, keyboards, phones and car keys; keeping hydrated with water and eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables; avoiding sick people; and staying home if you are sick.
The Public Health Department is now administering flu shots for adults and children at our locations in Libby and Eureka. We will bill to insurance companies, and if you are uninsured vaccination is free. Employers can also take advantage of our mobile flu shot clinic that services businesses and their employees so they can easily get vaccinated without having to leave work.
Each citizen in our community plays a role in its health and growth and we urge everyone to do their part to prevent the spread of influenza this season.
For more information or to schedule your flu shot, call Riley Black at 406-283-2447.
Riley Black is the Lincoln County Public Health nurse.