Frequently Asked Questions for This Year's Flu Season

YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, WE HAVE ANSWERS 

“With the addition of the H1N1 flu this year, we’re finding that more people may become sick,” states Platte Valley Medical Center Community Outreach Director Peggy Jarrett. “This is why it is so important to get immunized and protected. We are doing our best to make it as easy as possible to provide information and help our community obtain vaccinations.” 

 Below are the most frequently asked questions to help you navigate the months ahead:

 WHAT IS THE FLU?

The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. Flu viruses cause illness, hospital stays and deaths in the United States each year. There are many different flu viruses and sometimes a new flu virus emerges to make people sick.

 

WHAT IS 2009 H1N1 FLU?

The 2009 H1N1 flu is a new and very different influenza virus that is spreading worldwide among people. Influenza is unpredictable, but scientists believe that the new 2009 H1N1 virus will cause illness, hospital stays and deaths in the United States over the coming months. This flu season, the new virus may cause a lot more people to get sick than during a regular flu season, although initial reports are that the symptoms of 2009 H1N1 are milder than seasonal flu.

 

HOW SERIOUS IS THE FLU?

The flu can be very serious, especially for pregnant women, younger children, and children of any age who have one or more chronic medical conditions. These conditions include asthma or other lung problems, diabetes, weakened immune systems, kidney disease, heart problems and neurological and neuromuscular disorders. These conditions can result in more severe illness from influenza, including the new 2009 H1N1 virus.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE FLU?

Symptoms of seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu usually start suddenly and may include the following symptoms: Fever (usually high), Headache, Tiredness (can be extreme), Cough, Sore Throat, Runny or Stuffy Nose, Body Aches. Diarrhea and Vomiting are not typical seasonal flu symptoms, except in children; but is being seen among those with 2009 H1N1.  Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, can have similar symptoms.

 

HOW LONG CAN A SICK PERSON SPREAD THE FLU TO OTHERS?

People infected with seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu shed virus and may be able to infect others from one day before getting sick to five to seven days after. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems and in people infected with 2009 H1N1 flu.

HOW DOES FLU SPREAD?

Both 2009 H1N1 flu and seasonal flu are thought to spread mostly from person to person through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with influenza. People also may get sick by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

 WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?

Get a seasonal flu vaccine for yourself and your child to protect against seasonal flu viruses. Take everyday steps to prevent the spread of all flu viruses.

This includes:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to keep from having close contact (about six feet) with sick people, including anyone in the household who is sick.
  • Keep surfaces, like bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
  • Throw away tissues and other disposable • items used by sick persons in your household in the trash.

 WHAT DO I DO IF I GET SICK?

The CDC recommends that individuals with flu-like symptoms remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications.

 

DO I NEED TO GO TO THE DOCTOR IF I HAVE FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS?

It is expected that most people will recover without needing to see their doctor. If you have severe symptoms or are at high risk for flu complications, contact your healthcare provider. Otherwise, stay home. Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick. Staying home means that you should not leave your home. This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, religious services, social events and public activities.

 

IS THERE MEDICINE TO TREAT THE FLU?

Antiviral drugs can treat both seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu. These drugs can make people feel better and get better sooner. But they need to be prescribed by a doctor and they work best when started during the first two days of illness. These drugs can be given to children. The priority use for these drugs is to treat people who are seriously ill or who have a medical condition that puts them at high risk of serious flu complications.

 

WHO SHOULD GET VACCINATED THIS SEASON?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, it is recommended by CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that certain people should get vaccinated each year. Most of these people are recommended for vaccination because they are at high risk of having serious flu complications or they live with or care for people at high risk for serious complications

People recommended for seasonal influenza vaccination during the 2009-10 season remain the same as the previous season:

  • Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
    • Health care workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
    • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

WHAT VACCINES ARE AVAILABLE THIS SEASON?

In addition to the seasonal flu vaccine, pneumonia and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis combo) will be available at all Hospital-sponsored flu clinics this year. We are anticipating the H1N1 vaccine will be available sometime near the end of October or beginning of November for high-risk individuals. Additional details, as well as dates and times for distribution of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will be provided via this blog and via the flu line at 303-498-3595.

Who Should Get the Pneumonia Vaccine?

You should get the pneumococcal vaccine if: 

  • You are 65 years old or older.
  • You have a serious long-term health problem such as heart disease, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid, lung disease (not including asthma), diabetes, or liver cirrhosis.
  • Your resistance to infection is lowered due to Hodgkin’s disease; multiple myeloma; cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs; treatment with long-term steroids; bone marrow or organ transplant; kidney failure; HIV/AIDS; lymphoma, leukemia, or other cancers; nephrotic syndrome; damaged spleen or no spleen.

What is the Tdap Vaccine and Who Should Receive It?

Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine can protect adolescents and adults against three serious diseases. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are all caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.

TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the victim cannot open his/her mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in up to 2 cases out of 10.

DIPHTHERIA causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.

PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) causes severe coughing spells, vomiting, and disturbed sleep. It can lead to weight loss, incontinence, rib fractures and passing out from violent coughing, pneumonia, and hospitalization due to complications.

Tdap is recommended for anyone 11 years of age or older. Adults are encouraged to receive a single dose of Tdap to replace their next tetanus booster.

WHEN CAN I RECEIVE MY VACCINE? 

DAY

DATE

TIMES**

          (HELD AT PLATTE VALLEY MEDICAL CENTER)

Saturday 10/3 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Drive Thru & Walk-in Clinic)
Tuesday 10/6 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Thursday 10/8 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday 10/9 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Monday 10/12 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday 10/13 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Thursday 10/15 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday 10/20 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday 10/27 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seasonal Flu vaccines (not 2009 H1N1) are $25 (flu shot and nasal spray), pneumonia vaccines are $35, and Tdap vaccines are $50. If you have Medicare (Part B), Evercare, Rocky Mountain Health Plan, Humana Gold Choice, or Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance you will not have a co-pay for the flu vaccine. To be eligible for this, you must bring your insurance card for proof of coverage.  Additionally, Medicare Part B will cover the cost of  the pneumonia vaccine for their plan members. **For families with children five years of age and younger it is recommended you make an appointment to avoid standing in long lines by calling 303-498-3590. **

 

Other Flu/Pneumonia/Tdap Clinics Not Held at PVMC.

Brighton Senior Center575 Bush St. 10/13 9 – 11 a.m.
Ft. Lupton Community Rec. Center203 S. Harrison Avenue 10/19 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

 

 

For additional information about this year’s flu season visit: www.cdc.gov/flu, www.immunizecolorado.com or www.familiesfightingflu.org. Platte Valley Medical Center is located at 1600 Prairie Center Parkway in Brighton. For additional information about Platte Valley Medical Center visit www.pvmc.org or call (303) 498-1600.

 

 

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One Response

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