Flu should never be dismissed as “just the flu.” Both seasonal and H1N1 flu can cause serious disease, and although most cases are mild, some can be deadly. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person and mostly through coughing or sneezing. Flu season is not over yet and could continue until May. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend steps to fight the flu: take time to get vaccinated, take everyday preventive actions to stay healthy, stay informed, and be ready to respond if you do get sick. Now is the time to take action against the flu.
- CDC recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting yourself against regular seasonal flu.
- This year, CDC also advises getting an H1N1 flu vaccine because a seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against the H1N1 flu. Right now enough vaccine is available for everyone who wants to be vaccinated.
- Both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines are available as either a shot or a nasal spray.
- Millions of people have safely received the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines.
- The majority of people 6 months and older can get the shot
- You can get the nasal spray if you arehealthy, not pregnant, and between the agesof 2 and 49.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water (for 20 seconds or at least as long as it takes to sing the ABCs), especially after you cough
- or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand rub can be used. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (also known as the T-Zone). Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters, and toys for children) clean by wiping them with a household disinfectant using thedirections on the product label.
LEARN ABOUT THE FLU AND STAY INFORMED
- Recognize the symptoms of flu, which can include fever (100 °F (37.8 °C) or above), cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and
tiredness. Some people have had diarrhea and vomiting with H1N1 flu and not everyone has a fever.
- Know the differences between the cold and the flu so you can take the correct precautions:
– They are both respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses.
– The flu usually has worse and more intensesymptoms than the common cold.
– People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems,such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.
- For anyone who becomes sick, know the warning signs of serious illness that require emergency treatment. These include fast
breathing or trouble breathing, severe or persistent vomiting, blue or gray skin color, chest pain, confusion or change in behavior,and worsening or return of symptoms.
- Stay informed by visiting www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov/flu, or your local government or State health department Web site. You can also call 1–800–CDC–INFO (1–800–232–4636).
KNOW WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LIVE WITH GETS SICK
- If you do get sick, stay at home until at least 24 hours after being free of fever or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducingmedicines, such as Tylenol®.
- If you are in a high-risk group (for example, you have a chronic health condition, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, or you are
pregnant) and you think you might be sick, consult your health care provider or go to an emergency clinic right away. See www.cdc.gov/
h1n1flu/highrisk.htm for more information.
- Get plenty of liquids at the first sign of the flu to keep from getting dehydrated. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them such
as colas, tea, and coffee.
- Keep the person with flu in a separate sick room to keep others in the household from becoming sick. If you have more than one bathroom, designate one bathroom for those who are sick. Give each sick person his or her own drinking glass, washcloth, and towel.
BE READY AND KEEP BASIC SUPPLIES HANDY
The best time to get basic supplies is before you need them. Buy a few things at a time to stay within your budget. With these items on hand, you
can avoid making trips out in public when you are sick and may risk spreading your illness to others. Supplies may include:
- Prescription drugs regularly taken
- Over-the-counter products, such as pain and fever reducers, stomach remedies, and cough medicines
- Medical supplies including a thermometer
- Soap, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues, and cleaning supplies
- Face masks to wear when you are sick and must be around others
- Sport or rehydrating drinks with electrolytes
- Nonperishable and easy-to-prepare food