Flu season is here and the best defense to protect yourself, your family and your community from getting sick is to be vaccinated. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that everyone over the age of six months needs to get the flu shot this year. Dr. Iftikhar Ali, Medical Director of American Family Care (AFC), warns that no one is immune to potentially serious complications from the flu virus.
“Many people mistakenly believe that if they are relatively healthy, they don’t need a flu shot,” said Dr. Ali. “Young adults are usually able to recover from the flu, but they can spread the infection to seniors and other higher-risk people in the community. If you are a parent, you need to take preventative measures so that you can protect your child.”
Dr. Ali notes that AFC has already seen its first confirmed cases of Influenza A at two of its Danbury centers. All AFC centers offer convenient, quick flu shots without an appointment and most insurance plans cover the vaccine.
True influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Older adults and young children are at high risk for serious flu complications, as well as people with certain health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
“Another major benefit of getting the flu shot is that it boosts your immune system,” explains Dr. Ali. “By getting the vaccine, you are decreasing your chance of getting sick in any form this season.”
Dr. Ali recommends getting the influenza vaccine by the end of November. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for protection to set in. Children aged six months through eight years old who require two doses should receive the first dose as soon as possible. Flu season is generally between November and April with peaks in January or February.
In addition to the flu shot, Dr. Ali offers ways to avoid contracting and spreading the virus, especially as we head into the holidays:
- Kill influenza viruses on surfaces using chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols. Human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces between 2 and 8 hours.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for between 30 seconds and 1 minute to kill most of the bacteria or use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Seek treatment at the first signs of the flu, such as fever, cough, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). It is recommended that Tamiflu, an antiviral medication used to treat influenza infection, is started within 48 hours of flu symptoms.
There are three AFC locations in Danbury serving the city of Danbury and the Greater Danbury communities – 2 Main Street, 100 Mill Plain Road and 76C Newtown Road. Open 7 days a week with no appointment needed. For more information, visit www.afcurgentcare.com.