ALBANY —This week, the Southwest Public Health District is observing National Influenza Vaccination Week by encouraging residents to get a flu vaccine to ensure they spread cheer instead of germs during the holiday season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated, and since the holiday travel periods present a good opportunity for flu to circulate, officials are urging people to visit their health care providers, county health departments or pharmacies to get the flu vaccine to ensure sickness does not get in the way of participation in festivities — for themselves as well as their loved ones.
Influenza can be a serious disease that results in hospitalization or death. It crosses all races, ages, genders and ethnicities. Those especially at risk of complications from flu include adults 65 and older, children younger than 5 years, pregnant women and people with long-term medical conditions — and are therefore among those strongly encouraged to get the vaccine.
“It is important this time of year (for people to stay home) if they have a fever or are contagious, and if you know someone is sick, don’t go into their homes,” said Becky Snow, immunization coordinator for the health district. ” … It’s not too late to get immunized. The peak season for flu is end of January (and into) February.”
Flu symptoms include fever — usually high — headache, extreme tiredness, a dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms are also common, especially in children.
It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective. The vaccine generally comes in shot or nasal midst form. The nasal midst is a live attenuated vaccine, and so it is only recommended for healthy, non-pregnant individuals who are 2-49 years of age.
Aside from the vaccine, other methods of preventing the spread of flu include covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based rub and staying home for at least 24 hours after a fever connected to a flu-like illness is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.