CHENANGO COUNTY – Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is in season. Flu is a respiratory virus that is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and close contact. Thousands of people are infected, hospitalized, and several more die each year.
In the United States, fall and winter is the most prominent time for the flu virus. The season usually begins in October and can last until May.
The peak time within the season is between December and February. Onset of flu symptoms can strike suddenly and can last several days. Symptoms can include: Fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, and a stuffy or runny nose. The flu can lead to pneumonia and possibly a blood infection known as sepsis. Flu is the most dangerous for infants, young children, pregnant women, immunosuppressed individuals, those suffering from heart & lung disease, and people 65 years and older in age.
So what can a person do to protect themselves? A common practice is frequently washing hands. If a person is feeling ill they should remain home to prevent the spread of their virus. Getting a flu vaccine can also provide protection against the flu. The vaccine is made to protect individuals from the most common viruses for that current flu season. The flu vaccine does not cause a person to become ill with the flu. The flu vaccine may be given at age 6 months on through to adulthood. Pregnant women are urged to get the vaccine; they should make the vaccine administrator aware of their pregnancy. The vaccine can be given to individuals who are not currently severely ill and experiencing fevers. Those who should not have the vaccine are those who have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past or an allergy to eggs. If anyone who has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in the past should consult their physician. Common side effects of the flu are pain, redness, and swelling at injection site. Also, people may experience fever, malaise, headache, and joint pain.
Flu vaccines are given at immunization clinics in the Chenango County Department of Public Health. Please call 337-1660 to make an appointment. Further information can be found at www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/immunization.php and www.cdc.gov.