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Protecting yourself and our community from the flu

January 14, 2019

At St. Francis Hospital our mission is Making Communities Healthier. One way we do this is by making sure our neighbors have the information they need to stay healthy and fight preventable diseases, like the flu. Given the fact that flu season is now upon us, we want to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this often debilitating illness. The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself, prevent the disease from spreading, and speed up recovery from the flu, in case you do get sick.

The first and most important step is to get vaccinated. This is the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu virus. While it is still possible to contract the flu after receiving a vaccination, it is much less likely. And if you do get sick, studies have shown that flu vaccinations can make your illness milder.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older, with any age-appropriate flu vaccine. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best flu vaccination method for you.

There are a number of other important things you can do to prevent the spread of infection and protect yourself, your family and our community during flu season and year-round, including:

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol-based
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoiding sharing food, cups or eating utensils
  • Disinfecting your home and belongings, such as door knobs, light switches, children’s toys and play areas
  • Staying home from school or work if you are sick to prevent the spread of germs
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and NOT your bare hands
  • Calling your local hospital or your primary care provider with any questions

If you or a loved one begin to notice symptoms including coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms, please see your healthcare provider right away. When detected early, prescription antiviral drugs can often help treat the illness and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days.

In addition, limit contact with others as much as possible immediately after noticing symptoms. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to seek medical care.

During flu season and year-round, St. Francis is here to help with your healthcare needs. If you have any questions or concerns about this year’s flu season, our dedicated staff can help. Simply call 1-800-424- 3627.

For additional information about the 2018-19 flu season, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2018-2019.htm or contact the Public Health Department.