MVHC offers flu prevention and management tips

December 26, 2012

Minnesota Valley Health Center (MVHC) is asking the public’s help to reduce the spread of the flu and is reminding people that it’s not too late to receive a flu shot.

 “An early flu season is definitely underway,” says Roxanne Portner, RN, MVHC Infection Control & Education Coordinator. “We urge individuals to get a flu shot as soon as possible if they haven’t done so already this season. Vaccination is especially important for children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes and other long-term conditions who are at high risk from flu complications.”

 In early December, some residents in the MVHC nursing home began showing Influenza-Like Illness (ILI). It prompted immediate action throughout the facility to prevent the spread of the illness and keep residents, patients, visitors and staff safe.

 “We learned that residents and staff members who had a flu shot had less serious illnesses and recovered sooner than those who did not have a flu shot,” Portner said. “Getting a flu shot is one of the most effective ways each of us can avoid getting the flu and spreading the illness to others. Supplies of the flu vaccine are plentiful and readily available from your local health care provider or other consumer outlets, including many pharmacies.”

 Portner noted that in addition to getting the seasonal flu vaccine, there are other steps everyone can take to prevent contracting and spreading the flu. They include covering your cough, washing your hands with warm water and soap or using an alcohol-based sanitizer, staying home if you aren’t feeling well and keeping your children home if they are ill. 

The seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Even if you had a flu shot, you may still get the flu when the flu season arrives because the vaccine is made from the virus subtype that was prevalent in the previous flu season. Sometimes the new vaccine may not match the virus type that is causing flu the next year.

The signs and symptoms of the seasonal flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

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