Flu Facts: Why Vaccination Is So Important
Flu season is something that cannot be avoided. Even though each season varies in severity, it’s guaranteed to return every year.
According to Kimberly Basham, registered nurse and Oroville Hospital’s Director of Infection Prevention and Control, vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. “One of the things that we find with influenza that makes it a considerably ‘sneaky’ illness is that you can actually spread the virus before you have symptoms yourself,” she notes. “That’s why it’s so important to have the flu vaccine.”
If you do contract the flu, having the vaccination prior to becoming ill lessens the duration of symptoms, as well as the chance of landing yourself in a critical care situation.
Protecting Yourself & the Community
Basham recommends anyone over the age of six months receive the vaccine, and strongly advises pregnant women be vaccinated to prevent problems in utero. Babies under six months cannot get the vaccine, so it’s important to limit their exposure to others who may be ill. “It’s tough when you have a new baby in the house, because everybody wants to pick up that child and love on that child. It’s just not the best thing for that baby until they get all of their protections on board,” states Basham.
Some individuals believe they don’t have to get vaccinated, thanks to the effect of “herd immunity.” However, Basham doesn’t believe in that strategy. “You need to step up and protect yourself, protect your family members, and be a part of the herd. You really do,” she warns.
Flu: It Happens
Unfortunately, coming down with the flu does happen, vaccination protected or not. If you start to develop symptoms, such as a fever, body aches, and fatigue—and these symptoms come on quickly—it’s likely you are a victim of influenza. Basham recommends limiting your exposure to others and ask your healthcare provider for Tamiflu, which works best when taken in the initial stages.
You are contagious up to three days prior to presenting symptoms, and without Tamiflu intervention up to another 10-12 days after that, which reinforces Basham’s advice of limiting exposure—even for those individuals who work in a hospital or clinic setting. “We see healthcare providers coming in to work because they want to be here and they want to help, but we don’t want them here if they’re not feeling well,” advises Basham.
Aside from vaccination, make sure to practice plenty of hand-washing and don’t touch your mouth or face after coming into contact with a sick person. It’s okay to stay away from the general public if you fear you’re going to contract the flu—and especially so if you have the flu. Per Basham, “Remember, hugs are wonderful but maybe not during flu season.”
**To listen to an interview with Kimberly Basham, registered nurse and Oroville Hospital’s Director of Infection Prevention and Control, follow this link: https://radiomd.com/oroville/item/38504