Flu Season is Right Around the Corner
From Dr. Mary Beth Saunders. Lee Health’s System Medical Director of Epidemiology.
In just a few days, flu season officially begins.
At Lee Health, we want you and your family to be prepared and protected for when influenza cases begin to rise in Southwest Florida.
October 1 kicks off flu season each year. With that date only days away, I want to remind everyone about the importance of getting your flu shot and proper hand hygiene.
Influenza – commonly called the flu – is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.
Flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.
Every flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work or it can also result in more serious illness for some. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications.
Flu season generally runs from October to March, which is why it’s important to get your flu vaccine as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. The CDC recommends that you should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, before flu begins spreading in the community. Also, doctors recommend that everyone over 6 months old get vaccinated each year.
Some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, but flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness. You can visit a Lee Health provider to receive your flu shot. Visit www.leehealth.org for more information.
In addition to the vaccine, good hand hygiene is also extremely important to prevent the spread of flu and other viruses.
Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes, in most situations, such as when your hands are visibly soiled. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
When cleaning your hands, regardless if you’re using soap and water or hand sanitizer, proper technique is essential. You can follow this five-step soap and water process:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Make sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails and around your thumbs.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. This is as long as the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry. Sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs and may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Taking these preventative steps can really help you and your family stay safe this flu season.