HENDRICKS COUNTY, IN – Flu season has just begun, and public health officials at the Hendricks County Health Department are urging residents to get their flu shot to prevent the spread of influenza this season.
“Getting your flu shot early in the flu season, which usually runs between October and March, can help protect you and your family from the flu,” says Tamera Brinkman, Director of Public Health Nursing at the Health Department. “It also helps prevent the spread of flu, which assists in keeping vulnerable residents who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns and those who are allergic to the vaccine, safe from the potentially deadly virus.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months old should get a flu shot. Anyone who has an allergy to eggs or any other ingredient in the vaccine, as well as anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, should talk to their doctor before getting the vaccine.
“Many places offer the flu shot, such as your doctor’s office and local pharmacies,” continues Brinkman. “Our department also offers the vaccine to both uninsured and insured adults and children.”
The Health Department’s walk-in flu clinic is open every Wednesday during flu season from 8:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. at their Public Health Nursing Clinic in the Hendricks County Government Center, 355 S. Washington St., Danville. For more information about the clinic, insurance coverage, or cost of vaccine, call (317) 745-9222.
In addition to getting the flu shot, the Health Department also recommends taking these steps to prevent the flu:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve. When possible, cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after coughing or sneezing; before eating; after using the bathroom; after touching heavily-used objects like door knobs and key boards; before giving care to someone; and after caring for someone who is sick.
- The flu virus can “live” on some surfaces for up to 24 hours. Routine cleaning of surfaces may reduce the spread of the flu. Common household cleaning products can kill the flu virus, including products containing chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), or alcohols.
- Stay home from work, school, and other activities when you are showing symptoms of the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of influenza include fever, muscle aches, headache, lack of energy, dry cough, sore throat, and runny nose.
- Visit your doctor as soon as possible after becoming ill to be tested for the flu. If it is not the flu, your doctor can provide other treatment to get well. Antibiotics will not cure the flu, but there are other prescription medications that can help reduce and relieve symptoms.
“It’s important to take all precautions because the flu is easy to catch and pass from person-to-person,” states Brinkman. “The flu is spread through airborne droplets. When you sneeze or cough, the virus spreads to whatever surface the droplets touch, like your hands, a school desk, or another person. A person can spread the virus for 24 hours before showing symptoms and for at least seven days after symptoms begin, even if feeling well.”
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, including hospitalization and death. For more information about the flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm.
For more information about the flu or local vaccine providers, contact the Hendricks County Health Department Public Health Nursing Division at (317) 745-9222 or visit their website at www.co.hendricks.in.us/health.